Dealing with a symptom?


Traffic ground to a standstill around Camber last week and our MP leapt into action looking for “plans for warm days” and she does understand this does not only mean “traffic” but also includes water and beach safety, litter and anti-social behaviour.

However her leap into action was triggered by traffic grinding to a halt, and nothing moving for hours, and what the British Parking Association described as carmageddon.

But Camber’s carmageddon last week was a symptom of a much wider and deeper problem which is not just about “warm days” when everything stops, but about managing life in Camber all the time – and people do live there – and when I canvassed there a few years back the claim I often heard was that Rother, the district council, took a lot from Camber, but gave little back.

And our MP’s claim that the “authorities are already doing a great deal of work to manage the numbers” may well be met by a mix of laughter and anger because people do live in Camber, and they need their children to get to school, and they need to get to work, and do all the things needed to manage a normal life – and often they can not even get their car out of their drive.

And that is true of other towns, not always coastal ones, who get loads of visitors and need to manage the problems for the benefit of those who live there – and some of the solutions require changes, such as roads which can be blocked by rising bollards which only move if you have a permit key.

Towns which have lots of visitors often require parking controls to protect residents’ spaces and wardens (sometimes seasonal, like lifeguards) to protect those spaces for residents and penalise (heavily sometimes) those who ignore the rules.

Towns which have lots of visitors also need (and do have) electronic signs some distance away showing when the car parks are full (or getting full) and permits so only emergency vehicles and residents or people delivering can access particular roads at particular times – and cars going from Rye to Lydd (for example) don’t have to go through Camber.

And I’ve seen such schemes in use over many years in a seaside town like St Ives in Cornwall with ancient, narrow streets and a tourist town like Cambridge, which also has ancient and narrow streets.

As our MP says there are no quick wins, but I am not sure she fully understands the problems Camber has (yet) and some of the solutions may sound painful, but in many places the solutions are seasonal – but must be able to be swiftly brought into play if there are “warm days”.

However Rother, in particular, may have to dig into its pockets, and I suspect many in Camber will feel that it has been reluctant to do so in the past.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

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  1. As Charles Harkness seems to take a swipe at either the government or local Tory MP in almost all of his articles, would it not be reasonable to state that he is a Labour Councillor and has a long history of working for and supporting the Labour party.

    Context is everything and knowing the colour of the spectacles Mr. Harkness uses to view the world would help readers to put his views in context.

    His by-line should read ‘Charles Harkness, Labour Councillor’.

  2. Michael Wood has his facts wrong. I am not a Labour Councillor and have not been since the last Town Council election. And for nearly the last 20 years of my working life I was a senior civil servant and therefore excluded by my employment conditions from holding any post and taking any active part in the Labour Party.
    However I understand his strategy – when you can’t win an argument, attack the individual.
    But Camber deserves better – and its residents need to work closely with all relevant authorities to deal with the problems arising from its role as a popular centre for holidaymakers – as places like St Ives have done – and Rother have apparently failed to do. But the answers will not be easy and may involve seasonal parking controls.


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