We knew that any hope of having any form of parking enforcement in Rye was unlikely since the police cut backs. No longer were the police interested since they lacked the resources.
I was told last year in my capacity as a town councillor, writes Granville Bantick, (when I was invited to meet Chief Inspector Warren Franklin of Sussex Police) that there was no way enforcement by the police was possible.
He suggested that Rye Town Council should urgently consider the appointment of Community Warden for the town such as were appointed in some other areas of the country. He was emphatic that whilst the Community Warden would have no powers of enforcement such a person would be seen to have some official authority to encourage those intent on parking illegally to move on or be reported.
However, I am now informed that has changed and the police even forbid a Community Warden to get involved in any form of traffic or parking enforcement – not even discouraging motorists who park illegally.
Apparently the Community Warden could only be accredited to address and report transgressions such as drinking in prohibited areas, cycling on footpaths, littering, graffiti and anti-social behaviour. The Community Warden was however expected to be a liaison officer between the community and the council.
The cost was expected to be in the region of £40,000 pa, to be paid for by the Town Council. This would include the cost of training, uniform, wages and insurance and so on.
With the parking problem in the town still no longer having been resolved, there has recently been a effort by the PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) office to float the concept of Community Wardens as a means of withdrawing some police responsibility for low level crime.
The Mayor tells me she recently attended a meeting of the Sussex Authority of Local Councils (SALC) but it was evident that there was no shift in the stance that it (parking) is a District Council problem, and that it was for a District Council to address. As expected the police were not interested.
The PCC office has refused to support the concept of Rye and Battle combining to employ a Traffic Warden, but it is difficult to understand why it is not regarded as a viable solution to our problems in the two towns.
It seems that whilst the Government is intent on the path of further severe cuts in our police we in Rye are left with little or no power to solve the ever increasing parking problem in Rye. Alternatives for one reason or another appear to meet dead end , Granville concludes.
The Town Hall says, in its newsletter published in this month’s “Fixtures”, that “Sussex Police is having to respond to continuing substantial cuts to its Government funding. One of the early decisions in Rother was to cease prioritising addressing infringement of (on street) parking regulations.
Nowadays, the policy is to respond to complaints only if a parked vehicle is obstructing the carriageway – and an officer is available”.
The newsletter adds “The Council shares the frustration of those who see this – and the chaos, inconvenience and safety concerns it gives rise to on a daily basis”.
The Town Council has asked the County Council to make the experimental loading bay outside The George but “while it has ushered in improvements there remain car drivers who abuse it – and goods drivers who cannot be bothered to use it”.
However no-one else in Rother has the power to act. If the police won’t do it, it won’t get done. Rother is one of only 17 local authorities who have not decriminalised parking so the responsibility passes from the police to the local authority – and traffic wardens.
But, as the Town Council pointed out, this process “takes years and costs £millions – and often results in the introduction of on street charging”. But this now seems to be the only route forward.
But repairs to the Landgate may mean change comes sooner, rather than later, simply because Rother’s neglect of the archway could close that roadway for an unknown period of time (with or without decriminalisation taking place) – which could require a hard look having to be taken at Rye’s traffic, parking, access and delivery/collection arrangements, possibly by East Sussex County Council’s Highways Department.