In both Bexhill and Battle towns, the issue of parking causes difficulties for residents and traders alike. On road parking is free for the first two hours but cars are staying all day and other cars are parking on double-yellow lines and in loading bays. Anti-social parking is a danger and causes traffic chaos. It puts people off shopping in our towns. Accidents will happen and shops will close if we do not find a solution.
Sussex Police has taken the difficult decision to no longer enforce parking restrictions in Rother and Wealden, they will only deal with dangerous parking or obstructions. The reason they have decided to do this is because they need to prioritise their resources on dealing with crimes and crime prevention.
Rother and Wealden are one of only 15 council districts in England that have not taken on responsibility for parking enforcement. However, I am supportive of the decision of Sussex Police regarding parking policy as I don’t think that police officers should be issuing tickets to people who overstay the time limits of parking bays, especially as the revenue from the penalty notices goes into central government and we do not see any local benefit and nor do the police. I think it is time that the councils considered taking over the responsibility for parking enforcement in towns such as Bexhill, Battle and Rye. Doing so would also bring in local revenue that could be spent on improving congestion and road safety.
Last year I called a meeting with the Chief Constable of Sussex Police and council leaders to discuss this issue and the Leaders of Rother District Council and Wealden District Council said they would carry out some research to look at the costs, options and implications of taking over parking enforcement. I am pleased that our council leaders are taking such a positive response in considering this issue.
Following this research exercise both councils are now considering the options for civil parking enforcement for their districts. The options will need to be submitted to East Sussex County Council as the lead authority responsible for creating and implementing the business plan for civil parking enforcement. All councils want to ensure that the parking enforcement proposal will work well for residents and businesses and do not impose too much of a burden on local taxpayers. Rother District Council set up a Civil Parking Enforcement Task and Finish Group which has now concluded.
UPDATE 29 SEPTEMBER 2020:
Civil Parking Enforcement introduced in Rother District.
UPDATE 3 SEPTEMBER 2020
Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) is due to be brought in to the Rother District on 29 September this year once the order has been laid before Parliament next week.
Although this will be a change for our local towns and villages, I believe that our retailers will see the benefit as people will now be able to find parking in Bexhill Town Centre and the misuse of disabled parking bays along with dangerous or inconsiderate parking will finally come to an end.
I began my campaign on this after being newly elected in 2015 following concerns from local businesses and retailers about the "Wild West of Parking" in the area and I am pleased to see it finally achieved.
UPDATE - April 2018:
Rother District Council has now agreed to implement Civil Parking Enforcement. Further details can be found here.
This is some of the other action I have taken during this campaign:
Within Parliament, I have lobbied for parking enforcement to become a statutory responsibility for local authorities and not the police:
I spoke to the Roads Minister, Andrew Jones MP, on this matter in April 2017.
In March 2017 I spoke on this point during a debate on the Bus Services Bill. The full text can be read by following this link https://goo.gl/czEx1S
I first raised this in Parliament during a debate on policing in November 2015, my full speech can be read here https://goo.gl/yNPkVm
Local parking enforcement was the subject of one of my earliest articles for the Bexhill and Battle Observers https://huwmerriman-admin.