An outspoken Lewes Town Councillor has defended his criticism of the District Council over a 10 per cent hike in car parking charges in the county town.
Stephen Catlin last week questioned whether the District was the correct authority to be in control of Lewes, which lies in the South Downs National Park while the rest does not. Only seven councillors out of 41 actually represent the town, he said.
Cllr Catlin said: “The council’s attitude over parking charges amply justifies my stance.
“It is giving Seaford and Newhaven free parking up until Christmas in a bid to boost trade, while Lewes sees no help at all. With the town shops reporting that business is holding steady at 2010 levels while costs increase, Lewes needs as much help as anywhere else in the District.”
Cllr Catlin said the highest parking charges listed for the two coastal towns appears to be £2 for three hours, whereas in Lewes it can cost that much for one hour.
“I’m not saying we should yield to King Car,” he said. “I believe a good way forward would be a park-and-ride scheme for Lewes with low cost buses ferrying folk from a car park to the town centre and back.”
He called for a re-examination of the scheme to develop Southerham Grey Pit for this purpose. The 2010 Lewes Town Parking Study did consider the Southerham site but rejected the park-and-ride option.
Cllr Catlin said: “If we are to free up the town from pollution and congestion, and provide economical parking, I truly believe this must be looked at again. And quickly, too.”
Elsewhere, he has also drawn attention to safety issues regarding parking in the Lewes House site to the rear of the town’s library, where emergency vehicles may be blocked from entry.
He said: “This site is not covered by parking regulations so parking is free here. I am loathe to draw attention to it but the excuse put forward by a district council official this week that the parking area is not in the Traffic Regulation Order and that there is nothing more that can be done seems lame indeed.”