East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) planning committee has approved plans for the introduction in Rye of civil parking enforcement (CPE) despite Rye Town Councillor Chris Hoggart and the town’s Chamber of Commerce arguing before the committee that the proposal should be referred back.
Similar objections from Robertsbridge about the effect the size of the parking meters and the loss of some free parking would have on shoppers and trade were accepted in their case – but not in Rye’s.
However, after ESCC leader and local councillor Keith Glazier said council officers would listen to concerns about the siting of specific parking meters, Rye mayor Councillor Michael Boyd suggested later in the debate that an informal meeting with ESCC officers might be helpful.
Rye Town Council (RTC) had initially supported the introduction of CPE based on existing parking restrictions, but agreed later to oppose it when the detailed implementation was spelt out.
However CPE became inevitable when the police said they would no longer take responsibility for enforcing parking controls (except in the most extreme circumstances) but would support CPE in the form of traffic wardens and parking machines.
Councillor Hoggart said ESCC had been told that RTC supported the principle of CPE, but not the detail, and – given the historic townscape – wanted more engagement with the county council.
Coincillor Glazier said that he had warned RTC at the start of the process “be careful what you wish for” when Rother District Council (RDC) suggested introducing CPE, and added that he had repeatedly said that any scheme would be reviewed after a year – but he had pushed for what RTC initially wanted.
Speakers from the public gallery asked why Rye could not have the consideration Robertsbridge had got , and why other options had not been considered, and commented that “most people really don’t want these machines” and that a Park and Ride might now be necessary.
Anthony Kimber, vice-chair of the Rye Neighbourhood Plan (RNP) steering group, said the RNP had looked closely at the transport issues and last year a small group had been set up to take a longer term look at these issues. “Perhaps” he said,” we need to dig this up to consider the wider impacts of CPE”.
Councillor John Breeds said “parking is unsustainable as it is now and can’t stay as it is”.
Councillor Pat Hughes added: “I also said be careful what you wish for at the start – but there were repeat parking offenders. People who parked in the High Street for hours, sometimes days – and not visitors.
“The existing system has been abused and visitors need somewhere to park and they’ll be used to CPE elsewhere”.
As the debate became more heated the mayor intervened to ask Councillor Glazier to set up an informal meeting with county council officers and he said he would. However, he said, as parking issues involve a lengthy legal process he would need to look into that as well.
And, as Rye is a historic conservation area, and there are legal requirements in respect of access for the handicapped and disabled, there may be even more devils in the detail of the size, type and location of the parking meters on narrow pavements.
Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .