Removal of parking bays a further setback for small businesses

Traders in the Old Town struggling to recoup losses of more than three months of closure have reacted angrily to plans to remove parking for around 25 cars along the seafront. 

They say the scheme is yet another blow to trading prospects following the hikes in parking charges which came into effect on 1st July.

PICTURE: Colin Gibson

East Sussex County Council will temporarily suspend parking from The Stade to Pelham Place for at least three months to widen the walkway and enable better social distancing for pedestrians. 

Some parking bays in Grand Parade, St Leonards, between Warrior Square and London Road, will also be out of use when the measures are implemented in mid-August. 

The scheme is going ahead following a grant of £535,145 from the Department for Transport’s ‘Emergency Active Travel Fund’ aimed at encouraging more people to walk or cycle and better social distancing. 

Similar measures are being taken in Bexhill, Lewes and Eastbourne. 

A total of 163 metres will be out of action in the Old Town, excluding disabled bays and bus stops, with barriers put in place to protect pedestrians from traffic.

“It’s just a pointless exercise,” said Bob Tipler, owner of The Albion in George Street. “The council is just grabbing easy government money for a scheme which is without any benefit to anybody. 

“They’re taking out all of the parking spaces along the seafront when the pavements are already wide there anyway. 

“The whole thing is completely barmy and, for anyone running a business in the Old Town, we’re just scratching our heads and wondering what’s going on.”

Meanwhile, East Sussex County Council has said it will not be reversing the decision to almost double on-street parking charges across the town. 

A one-hour stay in the Old Town has risen from £1.50 to £2.95 while Hastings Town Centre has seen a rise from £1 to £2 for an hour. 

This is despite a petition signed by 1,327 people arguing that the increases would be ‘hugely detrimental’ to the survival and revival of the local economy. 

“The livelihoods of a con-siderable number of business owners and their staff are reliant on individuals and groups being able to park for long periods of time and shop locally.”

The increases were approved in January following a public consultation at the end of last year and do not affect Borough Council-run car parks like those at Rock-a-Nore or Pelham Place, where a five hour stay costs £6.60. 

ESCC says the higher charges will encourage shorter stays, thus increasing availability of spaces and footfall.

Tim Scullion, Wow and Flutter
PICTURE: Colin Gibson

Tim Scullion, owner of record shop Wow and Flutter in Trinity Road says he has already lost at least three customers and had at least ten complaints. 

“We just lost another customer who didn’t want to pay your new parking charges,” he wrote in an email to ESCC. “We can only have two people in the shop at one time, but he’d put the maximum amount of money he could afford on the parking, and it had run out while he was waiting so he had to leave. He wasn’t prepared to pay another two or three quid to stay for just a little bit longer.”

Speaking on behalf of Hastings Old Town Traders, Ady Maylam, co-owner of Mames Place in George Street said: 

“The elimination of the parking bays, along with the excessive on-road parking costs for the bays they’re not eliminating, is just going to add to the out-of-lockdown problems that shopkeepers find themselves in.  

“We’re questioning why they’re not eliminating parking spaces
to widen walkways in the town centre. Why are they picking
on us?”

Read other ideas of how to park your car; Rent Your Driveway

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.