Fire engines called out to the Hope Anchor hotel in Watchbell Street on Sunday night August 25 could not get through – because of the obstruction by parked vehicles not just in one place, but in two.
The first fire appliance had its way blocked by a parked car at the top of East Street, and had to reverse back down to the High Street and try Lion Street instead – and the second had to follow. But then both were blocked by another parked car outside the Methodist Church in Church Square. Further progress was impossible and the fire crews continued on foot down Watchbell Street to the hotel. Fortunately no outbreak of fire had occurred and hotel manager Chris George later said: “I called the fire brigade out as a precautionary act because I thought we might have had an electrical fault, but in the event we didn’t”.
Fire engines can not get into the citadel around the sharp corner by Lamb House but – if absolutely necessary – they can usually find a way to remove any vehicles obstructing them. However this will cause a delay in tackling a fire or any rescue necessary. Fire risks will be greater in areas of densely packed old wooden-built properties like Rye’s Citadel – particularly when there are high winds. Much of central London was destroyed by a fire in such circumstances in the 17th century and Rye has been devastated by fire in the past.
Parking and traffic problems are a frequent issue in the town and are expected to be a contentious area when public replies to the Neighbourhood Plan survey are discussed in coming weeks. Partial pedestrianisation has been one suggestion put forward. A report on the survey results is expected to be made to the Town Council after its August break. Tony Nunn comments on these issues on the Opinion page.
Additional traffic problems are anticipated for two weeks when Cinque Ports Street is closed for sewer work near the new homes and shops being built on the old garage site. There will be no westbound traffic between Rope Walk and Market Road, which will be diverted instead around the Undercliff. Both the police and Rother District Council have said in recent months that parking problems are not a priority for them.