It’s time to bring order to the chaotic parking in Bexhill

Your letters to the newspaper
Your letters to the newspaper

From: Dick Carrington, Broad Oak Lane, Bexhill

In his letter in last week’s Bexhill Observer (December 7) your correspondent, Mr Richard Chown, was absolutely right to draw attention to the fact that a public consultation over the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) across the Rother district is not being publicised widely enough by Rother District Council.

Their laid-back attitude is irritating and I am concerned about an apparent lack of interest in keeping the public informed.

Could it be that the existence of the consultation is being played down because East Sussex County Council already have a firm plan and are poised to apply to the Department for Transport for permission to introduce it “as a result of work with Rother District Council”, as stated in a recent RDC bulletin?

If this is the case then there is an obvious risk that objections voiced by residents will have absolutely no effect on the outcome because it will be too late to change anything. In other words, approval would be a foregone conclusion.

So far as Bexhill is concerned, everyone knows that the parking situation is horrendous, especially in the main shopping area of the town. And anyone with an iota of common sense can see that there will be adverse and very unpleasant repercussions if the existing parking regulations are strictly enforced in their present form.

Apart from causing much inconvenience to residents and visitors alike, CPE will be hugely detrimental to the economy of Bexhill. Frustrated shoppers will be reluctant to venture into town, local traders and other businesses will suffer badly in consequence, and our reputation as a friendly seaside venue for tourists will be permanently damaged.

Certain people in authority will undoubtedly say that the current free-for-all is dangerous and that rules must be imposed more rigidly using the well-worn excuse of health and safety. But can anyone tell me of an accident caused by illegal parking in Bexhill in which someone has been injured? In fact the currently widespread practice of disregarding the regulations undoubtedly helps to ease the overwhelming demand for space. So in these circumstances surely it would be better to leave things as they are rather than drive customers away by inflicting fines on drivers?

I would also question whether the authorities are genuinely serious about resolving the problem in Bexhill’s main shopping area. If they are then they must have been out of their minds to allow Wetherspoons to establish a huge restaurant-cum-pub in the old Playhouse Theatre in Western Road without providing any parking facilities. Patrons have no choice but to park in the street, and it is painfully obvious that this has made the situation even worse.

This site would have been ideal for a multi-storey car park, conveniently placed in the centre of the town, and it would have made an enormous difference to the amount of parking space available for drivers. A similar argument could be applied to the recent construction of a large block of 41 luxury apartments in Sea Road, not far from the railway station. Admittedly there is allocated parking under the building – but this is only for the owners of the flats, some of whom may also need space in the street outside for an additional car. This development should never have been permitted in a restricted and predominantly commercial area.

The main factor affecting this issue is that Bexhill is smothered in yellow lines and designated road markings. They are all over the place. Many of them serve no useful purpose whatever, and there are certainly far more dedicated spaces for disabled drivers than are necessary. Therefore, instead of enforcing the current rules and penalising car owners, why don’t the authorities remove some of these restrictions and extend the areas where kerbside parking can be permitted for everyone?

If it was felt necessary to install pay & display meters then so be it, but this would at least discourage any long-term parking and be relatively cheap to control. It would also bring some semblance of order to what is currently a chaotic situation that is far from simple to resolve.