The success of Bexhill’s biggest employer is causing parking problems for locals living nearby to its Collington Avenue headquarters.
Hastings Direct has steadily increased its local workforce over the last few years, with the number of people employed by the firm’s Bexhill branch estimated to have nearly doubled over the last 24 months – and a host of new positions still to be filled.
But while that has been good news for the company and the town as a whole, it has caused headaches for residents living nearby who have seen their streets deluged by staff looking for convenient parking space.
Frustrated neighbours have now teamed up under the banner of Collington Residents Action Group to lobby the insurance giants to find alternative arrangements for its staff.
A spokesman for the group explained: “Residents living in the vicinity of Hastings Direct are upset and frustrated by saturation parking across the whole area and are living with the consequences of this on a daily basis.
“Hastings Direct has outgrown parking facilities on their site at Conquest House and what was a quiet residential area has become a giant car park, making access to and from homes difficult.
“People feel they are frequently taking their life in their hands when pulling out of their residential roads onto the highway and problems continue throughout the day because of shift patterns at Hastings Direct. Some cars are parked until very late in the evening.
“Some elderly residents living in flats near Hastings Direct have said they feel besieged, and prisoners in their own homes.”
They also said parking on both sides of narrow residential roads threatened to cause access problems for emergency services while dustcarts have been unable to get down roads to collect rubbish on a number of occasions. Measures already introduced by Hastings Direct – which include subsidised rail travel and parking in Beeching Road - appeared to have little success.
The group hopes the firm can be convinced to provide more suitable additional parking and said: “We appreciate Hastings Direct is a major employer and provides many jobs, but we do need them to reflect on the impact their continuing expansion is having on this community.”
A spokesman for Hastings Direct said plans were afoot to improve the problem. They said: “We are aware that parking is a growing concern. This is largely driven by the growth of our business, which is positive for the local economy and for employment, but we appreciate it is creating pressure on the local infrastructure and we are taking action.
“Over recent years we have offered our colleagues a number of alternative schemes to encourage fewer vehicles being brought to work. Some initiatives have been more effective than others (for example, train subsidies and car sharing have been very effective, while the use of our overflow car parking has been under-utilised). We appreciate that as our growth continues, further action is needed and we are in the process of reviewing all options.
“We are in the process of gathering information on how and when each of our colleagues travels to work. This information will be used to help us review our current parking capacity, identify appropriate solutions and work with our colleagues to agree how we can reduce local parking pressures. The views of our local community are important to us and we will continue to work with them and all other interested parties as we move forward.”