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 .