Column ‘wide of the mark’

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Call the newsdesk on 01780 758951 or e-mail smeditor@stamfordmercury.co.uk EMN-140221-125759001 EMN-140221-125759001

Dave Budgen

Cameron Close

Hailsham

I thought that it was cuckoo land

Back in January you published an article about the parking in the revamped multi-million pound update on Hailsham High Street and George Street with the comment by Cllr Bob Standley, Leader of Wealden District Council, saying that he hoped drivers would have the sense to obey the parking restrictions.

I thought at the time that he lived in cloud cuckoo land.

Since that article, the only coverage that you have given to the High Street is the problems with the cobbled areas.

The parking in the High Street and George Street has got to the situation if you see a space park in it, regardless if it is marked loading/unloading, disabled parking, bus stop clearway, pedestrian crossing zig zags, bus stop clearways and on the pavement. We have witnessed it all.

I have emailed Cllr Standley on numerous occasions about the parking issues in Hailsham and the possibility of introducing Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE), which has been available to the council since 2008, to enforce on street parking.

The response from Cllr Standley has been the following: “The cost of setting up CPE will be in the region of £0.5million and will take two years to implement.”

At present on street parking is the police force’s responsibility and he has been in discussions with the Police Commissioner since January 2018.

A survey was carried out in 2008 about charging for car parks, and the response at that time was NO.

The council does not want to kill the town centre.

The council office car park is available on Saturday/Sunday and bank holidays.

My response to the above is as follows:

1. The initial cost would be recouped through parking fines, as parking fines would come back to the council for their use.

2. The police have other priorities than on-street parking and even with a Police Station in George Street it does not help matters. Any parking fines

issued by the Police go to central government.

3. Things have changed a great deal in 10 years and if you are going to get a turnover of cars in the car parks more people will shop in Hailsham.

Parking charges in these car parks do not have to be high, I have seen some councils that have introduced CPE and have introduced car park charges only charging 20p/30p for the first hour 50p for 2 hours £1 for 4 hours £2.50 or over 4 hours. For the car parks that offer 12 hour parking this could be a £1 charge for the whole period. This could cover the cost of the equipment and maintenance of the equipment.

4. With the current council attitude over CPE it is killing the town, if delivery drivers were to follow the parking restrictions shop keepers would not get deliveries, as the loading/unloading bays are in use for illegal parking. Disabled drivers are finding parking in the High Street impossible as non-disabled vehicles are parked in the bays and private cars are parked in Taxi bays.

5. There is no signage to this affect, even though the shop keepers were promised this 4 years ago.

Hailsham Town Council has responded to the problem by putting bollards down the High Street and George Street, but this has not stopped vehicles parking on the kerb and pavement beside these bollards. But this has not solved the problem completely and never will.

The off street parking during the day has vehicles queuing for the limited parking spaces available, this more so in the car park next to Waitrose (which has lost parking spaces as a new wall is being built around the Vicarage) and Asda.

I believe that as a town centre Hailsham has a future, but at present Wealden District Council seems to have lost the will to cope with the parking problems and to be honest having purchased Vicarage Fields earlier this year, which now has five empty premises I cannot understand this.