Is parking improving?

Traffic Wardens arrive in Rye

Tuesday, September 29 saw civil parking enforcement (CPE) the new parking regime in Rye, come into play. This has been a fiercely debated topic for what seems an eternity but at last, the talking is over and the reality is it’s here and likely here to stay.

The parking machines, affectionately referred to as Daleks, are in place and functioning and give the user the choice of paying by cash or card. New restriction signs have been erected, yellow lines repainted, disabled and loading bays added and now the message is clear –  illegal or inconsiderate parking will incur a fine.

I can’t remember the last time the western side of Rope Walk was clear of vehicles, traffic now passes freely and when the school coaches come along they will be able to pass with ease, delivery vans and lorries too. Ironically, when I took the photograph, the only parked vehicle was the white van which has not moved an inch since March! It will be interesting to see if this van, which although has been reported twice as abandoned (but isn’t, according to the authorities) receives a ticket, assuming the owner doesn’t intend to move it.

A traffic free Rope Walk, apart from the white van which has not moved since 23 March

The cattle market car park has attracted a lot more vehicles as a result but at £2 for twenty four hours it must be one of the cheapest car parks in the county. Despite this, many drivers choose not to pay, which was evidenced by the number of yellow stickers on the drivers side window of offending vehicles. The message “Please pay to park” is displayed for all to see, surely £2 isn’t going to break the bank, is it?

Meanwhile, around town there were quite a number of blue warning notices issued to drivers who either didn’t realise or thought they would chance their luck and park for longer than allowed, the wardens who arrived on mopeds during the morning were here to do a job and they made their presence felt.

The question is, is it working? Obviously it’s early days but the resounding response so far seems to be yes. I spoke to some of the High Street traders to canvas their opinion. “To have the ability for shoppers to pop in get what they want, drive away and give someone else the same opportunity is just what’s needed to keep attracting shoppers” was the response from one local business owner. “Rye has joined the 21st century, many towns have similar parking schemes, they seem to work, why should Rye be any different?” was the response from another party. “Many of the town centre spaces were occupied by locals until now, at last, visitors now have somewhere to park, we need their business, particularly now, locals will have to pay to park like anyone else or pay the price if they don’t” was the view of one local trader.

Unusually, there were no vehicles parked on the double yellow lines at the top of Market Street (which is normally a nightmare for delivery vehicles), outside the offices of GMP in Landgate the yellow lines which normally attract vehicles (which make life very difficult for buses) were empty and around Rye generally there were plenty of empty spaces which at 9:30am in the morning is pretty unusual. Things are changing.

Change is inevitable, whether its for the better is yet to be determined, for now at least the changes seem to be having a positive effect and if local businesses benefit from more visitors and more trade then perhaps all the build up, planning and investment will have been worth it.

Image Credits: Anthony Kimber , Nick Forman .


  1. As I posted on another thread yesterday following a visit to the town, this thread is probably more appropriate now that it exists…….

    Oh wow! For the first time in many years we were able to drive the two miles that we live from Rye, park with ease in the High Street, visit Nationwide and Boots, enjoy a coffee (outdoors) in the Kino, and all within a 20p charge. And there was ample parking space everywhere we looked – and on a sunny Market Day afternoon! Early days, I know, but it feels somehow as if we have got our local town back.

    On the downside, the machines don’t seem to display the time and charges, and if you want to use your mobile via Ringo then the small print says that there will be a small service charge. Exactly what that charge is isn’t displayed, but I imagine it could be significant in percentage terms when the maximum charge on the meter is 80p for 2 hours. I can also understand that the Kino is less than enthusiastic with a maximum stay time of 2 hours to create the necessary turnover of spaces – how long is a feature film and trailers these days?

  2. It is breathe of fresh air, and what a joy to be able to park close to shops for a minimal charge. There were loads of spaces on my visit this Friday morning at 9.30: doesn’t the town look better with fewer cars dumped everywhere. The owners of the 3 shops I visited were overjoyed that change had finally come.

    What was all the fuss about? The usual vested interests of the few …

  3. The premium for paying by RingGo is 50p no matter what duration you choose. Nice little earner which was (and continues to be) kept well concealed from all of us!!

  4. £2 a day equates to £730 a year, five or six times the cost of an annual parking permit in a typical busy London borough – it may not “break the bank”, Nick, but it will certainly make a sizeable hole. If residents were entitled to use the Cattle Market for a sensible annual fee, rather than the tourist rate, I dare say many of them would be prepared to pay. East Sussex County Council had the opportunity to introduce a coherent resident parking permit scheme at the same time as CPE, but chose to ignore the issue completely, just as they ignored practically all representations from the town.
    Of course, you can always buy a Business Permit, provided your business is located in Controlled Zone A, in other words Watchbell Street and a couple of adjoining roads, an entirely residential area. Did anyone from ESCC even bother to visit Rye before dreaming up this scheme, or did they just do the whole thing from a map? Perhaps they are just laughing at us while they rake in the money.
    Not quite sure what Phil Law means by “the usual vested interests of the few”. Does he mean the people who actually live in the town, who would quite like to be able to park somewhere near their homes without being subjected to endless complaints from visitors?

    • Hi, sorry for late reply I only look at this site once a week. There has never been ‘free parking’ for residents in the town – only illegal parking. Quite obvious for anyone buying a property: a friend decided not to purchase in Lion Street as there were no resident permits and that was 10 years ago. I remember getting a parking ticket for overstaying my hour of free parking 40 years ago when the regulations were policed.

      Vested interests: I think you identified them correctly, although I would add Rye Chamber of Commerce who selfishly objected to an offer from ESCC to fund COVID prevention measures in Rye as they would impact parking in the High Street – possibly as they all park their vehicles for days on end in the High Street – oh sorry, they used to …

  5. One has to smile at Tim Roches comments, does he not realise why this new parking restrictions have been implemented, its because people in the town that have abused the free parking,remember when we had the sprinkling of snow a couple of years ago,and the amount of cars that remained in place for days on the high street,stopping shoppers from able to park and pick up their prescriptions.yes by all mean park out of hours in front of your houses, but give others a chance in the daytime.

    • I’m glad you’re smiling, John, but residents have only “abused” the system because they have not been offered, and are still not being offered, any sensible alternative. What are they supposed to do, pop out every couple of hours to feed the on-street meter? Fork out £2 a day (£730 a year) as Nick Forman suggests, to park in the Cattle Market and walk up the hill to the centre – a physical effort which is apparently deemed entirely appropriate for residents of Rye but far too much trouble for visitors? Park on an already heavily congested Military Road….?

      • Or Tim, buy a house with off road parking or a garage attached?!
        With all due respect surely prospective buyers who wish to live in Rye make a choice about which house they buy based on certain personal criteria.
        People who choose to live in the centre of Rye know before they sign on the dotted line that their chosen house either has or hasn’t a garage or off road parking included in the price?
        Or do they expect a free parking space to be allocated to them as if by magic once they’ve moved in? I honestly don’t think most residents do. They make their own provision for their cars.
        Please let me know if I’ve totally missed the point here.

        • Julia, in a perfect world and with unlimited funds, doubtless we would all have exactly the facilities we need and want to make life convenient and comfortable. In this less than perfect reality we have to adapt, but that does not mean we should humbly accept bad administration and not try to improve our circumstances. I do not believe that it is unreasonable for residents to have access to parking in the town by means of a sensible parking permit scheme. Many, many other places with similar parking problems manage it, so why not Rye?
          I moved here from Battersea, which was an absolute parking nightmare, but it still had an efficient resident permit scheme which gave the people who actually lived there a chance to compete with the numerous commuters trying every day to park as close as possible close to Clapham Junction. There was no allocated parking space but, as a resident, who had paid for a permit, if I could find a space I was entitled to park in it. Too much to ask?

          • Thank you Tim for explaining your take on this issue.
            Really all I am saying is that when one buys a house there are all sorts of considerations to take into account when choosing a property. When we moved to Rye for example, a garage and off road parking was a priority (and of course our budget) and so we chose a house that had these. We have had to compromise on other aspects of where we live but I don’t expect these issues to be rectified by the local authority. We made a choice and we live with it.
            When you bought your house in Battersea presumably you knew you could have a residents’ parking permit.
            Anyway I appreciate your reply and good luck with the parking issues.

          • Tim, I’m not sure where you live but obviously in the centre of town judging by your comments ? Julia is correct that if you move to Rye, parking will be a problem whether you live in the citadel or South Undercliff, in fact any part of the main town.
            You can a permit for a RDC car park? The cheapest is £300 a year.
            Or if you’re fortunate to live in Watchbell Street, you can apply for on street permit for £25 a year.
            Let’s face it parking in Rye has been out of control with people parking where they like without any chance of penalty ticket

        • Totally agree with you Julia. Those who live in Rye are fortunate to have the alternative of buses and trains to hand. Those of us that live in surrounding villages don’t have such luxury and depend on our cars to access facilities. Hence I had given up visiting my nearest town as parking was near impossible – we even changed our dentist to another practice 10 miles distant as it was quicker and easier to access their services there.

          • Oh good thank you John. Glad you agree.
            From what you say you have had to adapt your day to day living over the years to meet changing circumstances (which are beyond your control)
            I also think our priorities change as we get older or indeed when we are young and start a family; our housing needs and priorities change.
            As you say we are lucky in Rye with a good public transport system. A positive outcome of the parking issues in the centre of Rye would be less reliance on cars and more on public transport (once Covid is over).

          • Julia, when I bought my flat in Battersea there was no permit scheme – it was a free-for-all! Permits were introduced later, in part at least, because of the lobbying efforts of the residents, which is rather my point about not accepting the status quo just because that’s how it is! Don’t think I’ve ever heard the local bus service described as a “luxury”, John!

          • It is very much a luxury when you don’t have any useful service Tim! And might I suggest that the public transport on offer in Battersea really does question the need for most to have any private transport at all? For me I have to drive to Rye to access the train service, and that means parking in Rye. Guess why I find myself driving to Ashford, even though that – combined with parking charges at Ashford – is vastly more expensive, not to mention time consuming.

      • Or get a permit for Gibbets Marsh car park, which always has spaces. NB Cattle Street Market is privately owned, surely the owner is entitled to do what he likes?

  6. In response to Tim Roche regarding the £2/day charge for parking in the cattle market car park, the cheaper alternative by far is to buy an annual permit to park there, currently £240 per annum which works out at approximately 0.65p per day, probably the cheapest parking anywhere in East Sussex. Permits can be purchased from Gibbons, Mannington & Phipps at 24 Landgate. 01797 223127.
    Now that’s what I call value for money.

  7. May we say that as residents of Military Road parking on Thursday 1st October was chaotic. The parking was horrendous, making it very dangerous for residents trying to turn into and out of North Salts.
    Residents have always found it hard to park outside their properties and at times experienced rudeness from drivers using Military Road as a FREE all day car park, and it is not unusual for cars to be parked for days. Also the road markings related to safety are just ignored.
    When the plans to improve the parking in Rye were being discussed, adverse effect on Military Road was not a consideration.
    There should now be allocated Resident parking in Military Road.

    • I have sympathy for you, the parking along Military Road was already getting worse over the last ten years and now it will get worse still unless permits are introduced. I live in Love Lane and have noticed an increase in cars either parking or attempting to park along this road. Given that it’s off season and rainy, what will the peak season look like? One aspect here is that despite the school now having ample parking on the tennis courts (parking for staff is so much more important than physical education for pupils) and the loss of public parking resulting from the enclosure of the turning circle without planning approval, some staff who smoke still park on street, as they are not allowed to smoke in the grounds and like to sit in their cars if it’s raining. I’m lucky I don’t need to drive that often, but this does adversely affect other residents.
      Overall I’m glad to see CPE finally introduced in Rye, it’s only taken RDC and ESCC 16 years to react to the Traffic Management Act 2004. Breakneck speed by their standards.

    • I commiserate with you, Military Rd has got progressively worse over the last few years, and is almost at the point where it is impassible.

    • I totally agree with Jeanette & Paul. The new CPE restriction hasn’t solved the issue of problem parking, all that it has done is to shift the problem elsewhere (Military Road, The Grove, Love Lane) Inconsiderate drivers oblivious to the road markings & selfishly leaving their vehicles for days on end.

  8. My brother had problems with parking near his home in the Strand and he has now left Rye and moved up to the Midlands. We miss him. However, the main reason why he left was not the parking but the horrendous traffic on the main road past his door, the noise of the bikers and constant anti-social behaviour. As far as parking was concerned, he paid for an annual season ticket to a nearby Rother District Council car park.

  9. First Saturday of new scheme:1130 am. Payment machine at top of Hilders Cliff already bust. Car on double yellows at top of Hilders Cliff (“that’s OK, I’ve got a blue badge”). Car on yellows as you turn into high street. And cars on double yellows at top of Market Street making it hard to turn into Market Street, the same old problem. Any enforcement going on? No. Utterly pointless scheme.

  10. It’s not Gibbets Marsh. It is called Gibbet Marsh – ie the place where there was a gibbet. It was not a place owned by a person called Gibbet. Also, by the way, it is customary to render latin abbreviations in lower-case (so nb (nota bene) not NB).

  11. So Timothy Gorman’s only contribution to the subject is to criticise someone else who may or may not have a degree in English Literature.
    The fact that she got her point over is obviously lost on you, how can we expect people to join in the debate if the internet police are lurking in the shadows.
    As your post adds nothing to the content I’m surprised it got past the editor, I’ve had posts knocked back for that very reason.

    Not a good start ,,people already ignoring buying a ticket as no sign of any wardens.

  13. Tim, would you like to join the team of volunteers at Rye News? I think you would be a great sub editor. Seriously. If so please get in touch. We are always after people who might have a few hours of week to sub, write, edit photos, all sorts of things.

  14. This scheme has been brought in after due consideration, consultation and endless appeals from residents, visitors and business owners to please PLEASE sort out the parking. It is a similar scheme employed all over the country where thoughtless, arrogant parking and lack of police resources led to flagrant and purposeful lawbreaking. It has been a pleasure to be able to enter the retail centre of Rye in the past week knowing that for a few pence shopping or business could be completed within easy distance of where the car was parked. I am sick to death of seeing vehicles parked at will just about everywhere one could be squeezed in. I was furious that after all of the hard work put in by Rye Town Council to get a Loading/Unloading Bay put into the High Street, we were soon witnessing many locals who should have known better wilfully using it for their own purposes because they knew they wouldn’t be caught. Well the time has come and yes, there is enforcement – so watch out.

  15. Have to agree with Bernadine on the parking this week, Rye has suddenly moved into the real world.
    On the subject of unloading bays, all you need to do is park outside your shop and leave the boot open all day.
    It seems to work in certain bays.

  16. Gosh Nick you have done it again! Lots of interesting comments! Being an estate agent I do agree on the point that if you choose to buy a property in Rye then you must appreciate the limited parking in the town! It’s all part of the town’s charm and of course when the town was built there were no cars around in any event! I do believe the paying machines are unsightly and they should be easy to use and do sympathise with the elderly and infirm in regard to parking available. However we do have access to public transport with trains and buses! I live in military road and granted I do have parking with the property and did appreciate from the start that during the day and social evening times parking is naturally busy – exactly one of the main reasons I bought my house as I can walk very easily up into town!


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