Last week, after the repairs had been carried out to the High Street and some of the roads in central Rye, there was a mixed reaction from locals with some applauding the much needed improvements whilst others questioning why the town should begin to look like any other.
Whilst the resurfacing was being carried out, the inevitable road closures and diversions had to be put in place which meant parts of the town became temporarily pedestrianised.
Interestingly, Rye News received two communications this week from readers who feel now is the time to consider carefully what the implications of a traffic-free High Street might bring. One reader made the point about the newly-laid tarmac being dug up a week later and sent in a photograph to accompany the following quote: “After waiting years for the High Street and The Mint to be resurfaced, after only a week the first hole has appeared. A gas leak prompted the work, although activity seems to have stopped for the weekend. On the plus side, the Mint is now a pedestrian zone.”
Another local sent in the following:
Can I have My High Street Back Please?
“Having lived in the Rye area for some years, I frequently walk along the High Street and wonder why we allow this beautiful gem to be cluttered with parked cars. In busy periods, especially at holiday times and weekends, the crowds and the parked cars result in an unseemly obstacle course, made worse by moving vehicles threading their way through the pedestrians. And the absurdity is that most of the moving cars are just looking for somewhere to park! And the ever-increasing number of electric vehicles means that you can’t hear them coming.
“I have spoken with many people and there seems to be general agreement that the traffic/parking situation does little to make visiting the High Street enjoyable. Who wants to visit a busy car park, even if it does have shops?
“Traditionally, when pedestrianisation of part of a town centre is raised, there will be a barrage of objections. This is understandable if the change is made with little thought for residents who need access and parking, or shops that need access for good delivery. I recall living in one town with a similar issue, and the main concern was from the shopkeepers who predicted a fall in custom – but visiting became more pleasant and business went up!
“Why now? Well, the re-opening of the George and the resurfacing of the road have really improved the appearance of our High Street – so why not take this opportunity to further enhance the town?
“So, come on Rye Council, I challenge you to think of a plan that would meet the residents’ and shops’ needs, and provide a High Street environment that would encourage visitors to return to our town. The idea could be trialled for one or two busy weekends before we make any final decisions. It’s not rocket science.”
Visitors to Rye are the lifeblood of the town and Rye, despite all of its unique and wonderful attractions, depends on tourists to keep it alive so is it now time for a rethink on the possible pedestrianisation of parts of the town? Is it time just for reaction or is now the time for a meaningful debate and action? What do you think?
Image Credits: Nick Forman .