A motion put to Uckfield town councillors last night (Monday, March 9, urging them to call for the retention of at least 25 parking spaces in the High Street as part of the highway improvement project was defeated.
Six councillors voted in favour of the motion and six against. Two abstained, and it all came down to the way chairman, Uckfield Mayor Cllr Ian Smith, chose to use his casting vote.
He voted against the motion and so it fell by the wayside.
In the same motion, proposed by Cllr Paul Sparks, councillors were asked to support effective enforcement of on-street parking restrictions and to welcome the introduction of a 20mph speed limit in Church Street from the junction with The Drive and then south down the High Street.
Most councillors who spoke were pleased about a decision to extend a 20mph speed limit from the High Street into Church Street and down to The Drive.
They also agreed that enforcement of restrictions was important.
Where they struggled to agree was on whether they should vote on the number of car parking spaces before a town poll, due to take place on Thursday, and before the results of a review of proposals for the High Street was completed.
Cllr Mick Harker, chairman of the Town Centre Regeneration Board but who was speaking last night as a town councillor said it would be “folly” to have a vote when the final design for the High Street wasn’t even agreed.
Cllr Sparks said there was no need to wait. “Let’s not fudge the issue, let’s not hide behind that. Let’s express our view, that is what traders, the Chamber of Commerce and residents want. They are looking for a lead from Uckfield Town Council.”
Members of the public were given the chance to speak about the motion before councillors began their debate.
Josh Gibbens asked the council to defer any decision until after the poll so that the people of Uckfield had an opportunity to vote without any decisions having been made already.
He said: “It also concerns me that any figure given now will be seen as binding. I’ve heard support for a complete retention of spaces, the removal of some spaces which would leave 35 in total. There are also people who do support the complete removal of parking, although I believe these are a minority.”
Josh asked why Cllr Sparks and other members of the council had not spoken up for the people of the town sooner. “They have been silent for the most part in recent months and suddenly a motion appears from nowhere.”
• The wording of the motion was changed during the meeting to welcome the fact that the regeneration board had already decided in favour of a 20mph speed limit from the High Street to The Drive.