Be fair – give Bexhill parking permits for free

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From: Joe Fairclough, Whydown Road, Bexhill

So Bexhill is the “wild west of parking,” is it?

Here’s my experience. I live about five miles out of town, and come in a couple of times a week to shop.

Plus, when we have visitors, we come in and park on the seafront for a walk along the lovely modernised west parade. Lunch, anyone? No problem. When our visitors are children, we come to Egerton Park for a great long session in the play areas. Ice cream is compulsory.

Every single time we come in, and despite all the illegal or immoral wagons and horses hitched up by all the cowhands and buffalo hunters, it takes me about five minutes to find a parking space close to wherever we want to be. We can stay for a lawful two hours, visit all the shops we need and still have time for coffee. I used to live only about a mile outside Maidstone town centre, and never went into it, because I could never ever find a parking space. If I absolutely had to go, I had to walk.

Yes, there are people who abuse the current situation, but they will abuse any situation. I have enormous sympathy for all the residents who feel they have to pay for a permit to avoid being nicked, but charging will not improve parking or traffic flow in any way, and it will only work if, like in Battle, we stick double yellow lines for miles out of town to stop people parking there and walking in.

Any charging system will simply generate revenue for the local authority, most of which will go on maintaining the system itself. More importantly, it will reduce the number of locals shopping in town. A recent headline in that august paper of record, the Daily Mail carried a front page story that parking charges are killing town centres. I could list all the (almost 100 per cent local) shops and cafés that will immediately lose my custom if Bexhill heads off down the “charging” route, but you would need a full page spread.

Make the police do more? For 35 years people have voted nationally and locally to pay as little tax as possible. The decline in our public services is the direct result of that.

Certainly charging will not have any impact on visitors, who come for the day and are willing to pay, but how many of those will sustain the town’s economy every wet and windy weekday between October and March?

Make the current situation fair to all by giving permits free of charge to all genuine town centre residents, and stop moaning. You don’t know when you are well off.

See you in Sue and Alfredo’s – or not.