Our independent Saturday columnist Observer says the reasons for recommending a U-turn on pay parking just don’t stack up.
The Grand Old Duke of Wealden marched his troops to the top of the hill . . . and then marched them down again.
Cllr Bob Standley has done one of the fastest U-turns seen in local politics by recommending the decriminalisation of on-street parking in Uckfield and across the district is called off.
In December, it was all go, until discussions were pulled at the last moment.
Come the new year, we have a new plan . . . well, actually there is now no real plan to control illegal parking on yellow lines and on pavements.
It has been a free-for-all and will now only get worse, unless Sussex Police with their extra £12 council tax put some bobbies on the beat and dish out a few tickets.
Wealden and Cllr Standley have long “bigged up” how they are going to get parking under control.
At the first sight of the enemy, he went into retreat.
Cllr Standley justifies his change of heart on two factors:
- The danger on-street pay parking will affect local high street shops; and
- Parking meters will give a rural area an urban feel.
The counter to those arguments are:
- The on-street parking bays could well now be filled up by commuters, workers or other long-stayers. The whole point of short-term bays is to get “churn” – people popping in and out of shops – Cllr Standley’s recommendation will not achieve this
- Whether we like it or not, Uckfield is an urban area, as are the district’s other towns. There are far prettier places than Uckfield (never, I hear you say!) that have meters without totally ruining the street scene.
As things stand, Wealden will not offer any certain relief to shoppers who have to dodge vans and cars parking on pavements, double yellow lines and the zig-zags at crossings.
There also seems to be no assistance for those elsewhere who are plagued by illegal parking.
Of course, Cllr Standley is only one voice in the Cabinet. He is, however, the Leader.
On this occasion, I hope the remaining Cabinet members call for a re-think.
After all, Wealden is one of the few places where parking has not been decriminalised in these parts and I just don’t see the police making this district a special case.
High street water re-fills
Last August I suggested Uckfield should set up a tap water refill scheme, such as was found in Bristol and other places.
It didn’t catch people’s imagination at the time.
To run such a scheme, you would have needed a very committed individual(s).
How pleased I was to read this week that industry body Water UK is promoting refill schemes across the country. (external link)
I look forward to seeing it arrive in Uckfield – I guess we are reliant on South East Water – and hope they find success in our town.
After all, every single-use plastic bottle of water that disappears has to be good.