Concerns new parking charges on Bexhill seafront could end up ‘killing town’

Bexhill Colonnade and Bexhill Seafront SUS-190214-115635001
Bexhill Colonnade and Bexhill Seafront SUS-190214-115635001

Work is underway to bring parking enforcement to Rother, councillors heard this week.

On Monday (June 10), Rother District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee heard further details of proposals to bring on-street parking restrictions to Bexhill, Battle, Robertsbridge and Rye.

Bexhill Colonnade and Bexhill Seafront SUS-190214-115714001

Bexhill Colonnade and Bexhill Seafront SUS-190214-115714001

If adopted, the new restrictions – which include time-limited bays and permit parking as well as pay and display spaces – would be enforced by council traffic wardens with penalty fees.

The working proposals, which were presented to councillors by officers from East Sussex County Council, had been drawn up following an informal consultation held earlier this year.

Council officers said several changes had been made to the proposals following public feedback.  Further changes may also be made before formal proposals are put to the public as Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) in the coming months, officers said.

Despite the changes several councillors raised concerns about the impact of the proposed restrictions in their wards.

Bexhill Kewhurst councillor Lynn Langlands (Independent) raised concerns about introducing pay and display parking to the town’s seafront.

“I just think you are killing the town,” Cllr Langlands said.

“I really have got to say I think the seafront should be left alone.

“That is an opinion I have had from quite a few people while I was campaigning, who live outside of the zone but who come in to walk their dogs on the front or whatever. They are really quite alarmed that they might have to pay to do that.

“Personally, I think the seafront brings the visitors and the seafront brings the money, because the town is close to the seafront and [visitors] then walk up to spend their money.

“I’m not sure that if we start charging on the seafront, then we won’t cause an economic problem to the town.”

This view was not shared by other councillors however, including Conservative group leader and former Rother council leader Carl Maynard.

Cllr Maynard said: “I know in my previous role of leading this council we were very, very clear that because of the delicate offers – not just in Bexhill, but in Battle and Rye as well – that we had to keep the charging regime as low as possible.

“To exclude the seafront from the scheme, what that would lead to would be those that trade in the town would just park there all day and actually you wouldn’t get the visitors being able to use that seafront space.

“The fundamental for this whole scheme is to try and make sure we protect the delicate retail offer in the town itself. By keeping those charges lower and directly comparable with Hastings and Eastbourne, that is exactly what this scheme does.”

Councillors also heard that the proposed parking charges for the seafront would be set at around 20p per 30mins and at £2 to stay for more than six hours.

However there would not be a seasonal change in the fees, officers said, as the charges were at  “such a low tariff in the first place.”

The county council says it will also be monitoring the parking situation on roads near to Bexhill seafront to avoid “displacement” (where people seek free parking nearby).

East Sussex County Council is currently in the process of seeking parking enforcement powers in Rother through an application to the Department for Transport.

As this application goes on, details of the proposed parking restrictions will be put forward through a series of TROs, with the final arrangements to be decided by the county council’s planning committee.

These TROs will be open to comments – in support or against – during the planning process.

Once the TROs are agreed and the parking enforcement powers granted, council traffic wardens will begin working within the district.

This is expected to take place between March and April 2020.