Park and ride to ease jammed roads?

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Jam today and the same tomorrow if parking issues are not solved. This shot was taken in the High Street earlier this month. Parked cars prevented the lorry from turning out of Lion Street

Rye’s councillors will be urged next week to consider the possibility of more car parking space on the edge of the town – this time along Udimore Road near the Valley Park estate. That, however, would be a long walk from the town centre and might need a “park and ride” service – possibly provided by Rye Community Transport. The idea comes from the town’s Highways Forum. It will be asking the council’s planning committee on Monday September 29 to ask the highways authority (East Sussex County Council) about its proposal.

Meanwhile, parking problems continue. Roadworks in Cinque Ports Street, due to have ended on September 19 after two weeks’ disruption – are still there and causing problems. Earlier in the week a large beer lorry delivering to the Cinque Ports pub had to back up slowly when it met a car head on. The road was supposed to be two-way at that point, but vans parked outside the greengrocers and a large car parked opposite meant only one vehicle could get through.

Five minutes earlier the one-way High Street was blocked by a delivery van leaving goods at the Day Lewis pharmacy and another large car on the opposite side of the road. Nothing could get through until the delivery van moved to a wider section of the pavement, but pedestrians, pushchairs and mobility scooters were then blocked as a consequence.

The current roadworks in Cinque Ports Street are to provide services to new housing and shops on the old garage site. The work is now on both sides of the road, forcing traffic to zigzag through the temporary one-way section. In the High Street the town council has agreed a loading bay by The George in Rye hotel, and it is now up to the county council to implement it.

Rye’s mayor, Bernardine Fiddimore, is confident that the loading bay, once in place, will reduce the number of deliveries in Lion Street as well as congestion. But those who live, or have shops, in Lion Street are far from happy.

The last council meeting was told that The George, despite promises, did not seem to be managing its deliveries, resulting in congestion and delivery drivers having to wheel or carry goods down Lion Street. It was suggested that the hotel needed to employ porters to assist both delivery drivers and its guests.

The recent Neighbourhood Plan survey showed overwhelming support (82 per cent) for one or more loading bays in the town; and the introduction of a “park and ride” scheme was agreed by nearly 70 per cent 0f those answering. Slightly more (76 per cent) wanted timed street closures or pedestrianisation of the High Street to be considered, and 71 per cent favoured red line zones  (no waiting or parking at any time). More than 90 per cent agreed parking was an issue and should be improved by better management, increased capacity and effective enforcement.

Cllr Mike Eve told the town council that Sussex Police considers parking problems to be a low priority and that Rother District Council is one of only 17 district/borough councils nationwide not to have a Civil Parking Enforcement Scheme. Rother councillor Lord Ampthill said parking was being taken seriously, but it was the responsibility of the police.

Cllr Granville Bantick said Chief Inspector Warren Franklin had told him that because Sussex Police had to make £25 million savings, traffic wardens were not a possibility. Bantick has suggested instead that a community warden might be an alternative, paid for by the town council but working closely with the police.

Photo: Rye News