One of Rye’s major parking problems was discussed at a recent meeting of the Highways Forum and East Sussex Highways Department officer Brian Banks was expected to review the options and report back, but nothing has been heard yet. Andrew Bamji reports on the options considered.
Parking problems in Rye are numerous, but a major issue is the short-term parking by users of the bank cashpoints in the High Street as there are three within ten yards, belonging to Barclays, NatWest (both situated in the High Street) and Lloyds (in West Street).
Users park either on the double yellow lines in the High Street (which often causes problems for vehicles attempting to enter or leave West Street) or in West Street itself. As this is too narrow for vehicles to pass, users park on the pavements causing damage, by loosening the paving slabs, and obstruct the footpaths.
Further damage results from cars trying to pass parked vehicles, as they have to mount the kerb and drive on the pavements – and a high vehicle has scraped the bay window of the “Santa Maria”, the first house in West Street on the west side.
One trade vehicle trying to exit West Street clipped a car parked on double yellow lines in the High Street and was found liable in the insurance claim. While as far as I know there have been no accidents suffered by people forced into the road to walk on the cobbles, there have been several injuries as a result of loose paving slabs, and in at least one case damages have been sought from East Sussex County Council (ESCC).
- Place bollards on the existing pavement
- Place a rising bollard in the road. This would necessitate supply of codes to all with a right to access (West Street, Mermaid Street, Church Square) which would include residents and tradesmen; it would also require excavation of the (listed) cobbles and an electrical supply.
- Apply pavement double yellow lines from the High Street up to the NatWest car park, on both sides of the road, to indicate “No parking at any time for any vehicle”
- Close the bottom of West Street.
- Lay an extended pavement into the High Street outside the NatWest bank and install a bollard on the corner, at the same time making West Street one way from South to North (down hill).
- Keep the status quo but strengthen the pavement to roadway standards, on the basis that vehicles will continue to park on it but the risk of loosening paviours would be reduced
My comments on each of these options are:
- These would have to be placed on both sides of the road, and would have the effect of forcing parked cars to stop further up West Street. It would not change the pattern of parking in the High Street. In any event the pavement is not wide enough for installation of bollards to meet Highways requirements
- Prohibitive cost. It would also be a problem if vehicles without permits/codes came down West Street from Mermaid Street and got stuck; they would have to reverse back
- A cheap option, but without enforcement it would be widely ignored
- Vehicles trying to access houses between the High Street and Mermaid Street would have to drive in from Mermaid Street and then reverse out, as there is no room to turn. Both options 3 and 4 would put properties at risk.
- A pavement extension would effectively stop any vehicle trying to access West Street from the High Street – the majority of bank users. Street signage would be tidier (the current “Restricted” signs replaced by “No entry” signs, and a “No Left Turn” sign in the High Street). It would not interfere with the High Street roadway (it would not intrude further than parked cars) and would improve pavement width by the bay window of the NatWest bank. However, if larger vehicles require access to the upper part of West Street these are currently unable to turn in from Mermaid Street. Normally they come up West Street (North to South) from where they can drive straight up. Thus making West Street one-way in the “wrong” direction might cause problems for deliveries/removals/larger builders’ vehicles (though because of the tight corner of Church Square this would only be an issue for the houses in West Street). I consider the benefit outweighs the risk.
- The cheapest option, but it doesn’t solve the problem!
In my opinion option 5 should be explored. The only alternative is to employ a traffic warden [Editor’s note: But this has been blocked by the police unless, and until, parking is decriminalised by Rother District Council and it introduces wardens] .
I have spoken to some of the local tradespeople, who struggle to park and deliver (especially on a Thursday) and they would welcome the employment of a warden, commenting that when the town had one (indeed it had two at one stage) there was not a major problem with parking.
Photo: Rye News library