New parking restrictions are to be introduced across much of Rother after proposals gained the backing of county councillors this week.
On Wednesday (January 15), East Sussex County Council’s planning committee considered proposals for a new Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in Rother, bringing a raft of new parking restrictions ahead of the expected introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) later this year.
Most of the proposals were approved as recommended, although the committee rejected the restrictions proposed for Robertsbridge as they were felt to be ‘inappropriate’.
The specific proposal, which would have seen two hour pay and display spaces introduced to High Street and Station Road, had proven to be unpopular with village residents who feared it would both damage local business and displace commuter parking.
A number of objectors also attended the meeting to voice their concerns, including local resident Nick Brown, who said: “It does seem to me that in all these parking proposals the council is adopting a one-size fits all [approach] for all the geographical locations.
“I would suggest that what is appropriate for Bexhill is not appropriate necessarily for Robertsbridge which is much smaller both in terms of geography and population.”
Ward councillor Angharad Davies (Con, Northern Rother) also spoke on the proposals. She said: “[Parking] is a big problem in Robertsbridge, there are many cars parked both legally and illegally and it is a very busy village.
“Broadly the parish council and residents support these proposals, however, there are quite a lot of objectors.
“The objections mainly relate to the fact that the car parking meters are not very fitting for Robertsbridge which is a conservation area.
“The other big concern is about retail. Robertsbridge has a thriving high street, not many areas do, and they are worried that people having to pay for parking will affect the retail.”
Cllr Davies also said that should the proposals go ahead, the village would hope for the arrangements to be thoroughly looked at during the annual TRO review.
While there were some split opinions on the committee, following further discussion members opted not to include the Robertsbridge proposals in the TRO on a majority vote.
But officers warned that the level of enforcement would be lower if pay and display meters were not included, due to the costs associated with it.
Objections had also been raised about other areas included in the TRO, with the majority being raised over proposals in Bexhill.
Concerns were also aired at the meeting by Ian Hollidge, who spoke on behalf of the Bexhill Chamber of Commerce.
Similar concerns were raised by Rye residents as well as representatives of Rye Town Council and the Mint Association.
However, the committee did not support these objections and voted in line with officers’ recommendations on the remaining items.
Speaking about some of the proposals for Bexhill generally, Cllr Godfrey Daniel (Lab, Hastings Braybrooke and Castle) argued in favour of introducing CPE schemes.
Cllr Daniel said: “I notice the objections are general about the scheme itself really. I have to say my experience of this kind of scheme in Hastings is very positive.
“Once people got used to the idea of proper enforcement, residents in particular are usually happier with it. Certainly we have no movement in Hastings to get rid of the whole scheme at all.”
Cllr Daniel had also noted that many of the objections in Bexhill had called for more restrictive parking measures than those proposed. The committee would not be able to grant these calls, he said, as the more restrictive proposals would not have gone out for public consultation.
While the majority of the proposals had been recommended to move ahead as advertised, some of the proposed parking restrictions had been altered or dropped in light of residents’ objections.
As a result, the TRO did not include the introduction of single-yellow lines in Lower Lake in Battle or double-yellow lines in De Moleyns Close in Bexhill.
Proposals to introduce permit parking restrictions to Abbots Close, Kingsdale Close and St Mary’s Villas – all in Battle – are also not included in the TRO.
This is because the roads are unadopted and, as a result, restrictions would require the consent of all its residents.
Meanwhile, proposals concerning Old Manor Close in Bexhill were modified to address specific concerns by reducing the length of the proposed parking bays.
The overall decision comes as the Department for Transport (DfT) considers a bid to introduce civil parking enforcement (CPE) powers across the district.
If approved, this would mean restrictions could be enforced by council traffic wardens rather than police.
As a result, the TRO includes the introduction of pay and display and permit parking spaces in much of the district, partly because CPE schemes are required to be self-funding.
The DfT has yet to decide on the council’s bid to introduce CPE powers. If approved the scheme is not expected to be introduced until at least April 2020.
Huw Oxburgh , Local Democracy Reporting Service