Barking parking sparks malarkey

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Readers will have noticed that, for some months now, every article that we publish has the facility beneath it, for you to leave your own comment or viewpoint on what you have just read. This is your area to say what you want and we don’t have many rules – the main ones being: don’t involve us in a potential libel action; try not to be abusive, however strongly you might feel about a subject, and please try and stay more or less on topic. We have regular contributors to this area of the paper and we also have those who do not normally write in but suddenly feel they just have to make their voice heard on something that has struck a chord with them.

Recently we have had an example of both. It will not have escaped anyone’s notice that traffic and parking have been occupying a lot of space in the paper and a few weeks ago Rye Town Council (RTC) decided not to support a motion agreeing “in principle” to the adoption of Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE, also referred to as CEP in the comments) in the town. This week, clearly stung into action by our Opinion article Parking is such street sorrow, Andy Stuart, one of our town councillors, wrote the following:

The Town Council were asked to vote ‘in principle for CEP’ with no prior consultation by Rother or any explanation of what CEP might mean in Rye.

Fresh from the ‘Brexit means Brexit’ nonsense the idea of voting ‘in principle’ for… six dozen Parking Meters in the High Street each charging six Guineas an hour. 24/7 (to subsidise free residents’ street parking in Bexhill), or a single Traffic Warden to be shared with Bexhill and Battle, or whatever Rother might decide to foist on Rye without any further consultation because we have already voted in principle worried me. As one councillor pointed out, CPE sounds great, but once Bexhill decides what form it is going to take in Rye there will be really no coming back from it. Ever! Too often have Rother decided things without further reference to Rye.

Remember, Rother and its agents in Rye (‘our’ District Councillors) have been aggressively against CPE for years – Lord Ampthill has addressed RTC many times over the last few years explaining how CPE is such a poor idea and how RDC is very much against it – so this seemingly Saul on the road to Damascus conversion (without any hard facts at hand) worries me! Surely it can’t be because Rother sees an easy way to stuff its coffers at the expense of Rye? Can it? If Rother were to show the people of Rye some respect it would table ideas about what it believes CPE will be and how it will affect each town within its jurisdiction. Only then I might vote in favour ‘in principle’.

But since the Old Bill has largely abandoned Rye to its own devices I’m not sure that giving Old Bexhill a carte blanche to actually police our affairs as it likes (‘backed’ by the ‘mandate’ of an in principle vote in favour by RTC of their jurisdiction) is very sensible.

Show me what ‘in principle’ CPE might actually mean and I might, in principle, vote in favour.

While I am not sure that I accept all of this – although Andy certainly makes some valid points even if he does occasionally go a bit over the top (but I love the idea of parking meters charging in guineas. This is Rye, after all and it just could happen!). However, for another reader, John Howlett, this was clearly the proverbial red rag to a bull and he responded:

Andy, most of your remarks are nonsense. You should have found out for yourself what CEP could mean. You’re a Councillor. You’re meant to talk to other Cllrs and to townsfolk.
Ashford did CEP twenty years ago and thus Tenterden has a very civilised parking regime. Did you make any comparisons?

Both have a point. We don’t know what Bexhill haS in mind for Rye and, as a town, there can be no doubt that we are permanently suspicious of their motives – perhaps a bit like the Saxons felt about the Normans 950 years ago and maybe we do, unfairly perhaps, regard them as the “occupying power” without whose permission we can do nothing. But is that really justified?

More than ever, though, this convinces me that we must, ourselves, produce a comprehensive plan for traffic management. It is absolutely no good looking at odd streets and just putting up a camera or two, installing some bollards or even getting a warden to ticket illegal parkers in the citadel (or elsewhere. I have just had a lorry belonging to Surge Scaffolding park on private land blocking my garage and several others, while the driver and his mate went into the pub).

The Neighbourhood Plan is almost complete. Amongst many other issues it addresses the traffic question and it does seem a lost opportunity that the Town Council did not use this to help formulate, even just in skeletal form, a holistic plan for the town and then use that as the basis for whether or not to support the principle of CPE.

Our council are there to provide leadership, which it is not doing at the moment. At Monday’s Planning Committee meeting, after the main Council business was complete, one councillor stood up and demanded that Rye News should support the council and implied that we should not dare to criticise.

The answer to that is that we will support you, providing you, the council, are seen to be more than just a talking shop. Lead the town, plan properly for its future, fight for the things we need, whether it is traffic management, the preservation of the Landgate, rubbish clearance or whatever. Fight our corner, councillors, stand up and be counted, and we will support you to the hilt.

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