Our independent Saturday columnist Observer says the control of on-street parking should be an election issue in the next Wealden District Council elections.
There has long been a parking free-for-all on the streets of Uckfield and, I suspect, the rest of Wealden.
Drivers ignoring timed restrictions in the High Street, parking on yellow lines and pavements cause great annoyance.
It’s a problem throughout the town.
I am told that when Uckfield Town Council discussed lobbying to make pavement parking an offence, the cry went up: Who will enforce?
The lack of enforcement is also a topic of conversation at many meetings, formal and informal.
In most places in the country, parking has been decriminalised, meaning enforcement has passed from the police to the councils.
It works well, although there are a few howls of protest from those who get caught.
Wealden District Council has held out against decriminalising parking and has tried to persuade Sussex Police to resume full control of parking in the district.
Causing a danger
Quite rightly, the police have said no, except where the parking causes a danger to other road users.
Police budgets have been savaged in the last few years, there are far fewer officers and parking is not, and should not be, a priority in these times of austerity.
About a year ago, Wealden looked to be edging towards decriminalising parking, by introducing charges for on-street parking.
Spoil the look
However, the plan fell by the wayside for a number of reasons, including the idea that parking machines would spoil the look of our towns and on-street pay parking would hit shops hard.
Funny one that, I will fight our town’s corner but I don’t think Uckfield, Crowborough and Hailsham can hold a candle to say Rye…which has parking machines on the street.
And, in other towns where they have pay parking, the number of boarded up shops doesn’t appear hugely greater than these parts.
The pavement widening works in High Street left fewer parking spaces, still a sore with many people. In raw numbers that is true.
However, if the time limits were monitored and enforced, the churn of cars would give at least the same total as we had before, if not more.
Paying for parking
Wealden’s long insistence on free parking, in its off-street car parks, has in part caused this dilemma.
I support the provision of short-stay free shoppers’ car parks but cannot see why using the longer-stay car parks shouldn’t incur a charge.
For anybody working in town centres in most other places, that’s a fact of life and a cost that has to be factored into employment. Many councils also charge in the evenings.
This might provide the revenue to allow free on-street parking in the High Street and pay for enforcement there and elsewhere.
The other question is this: can on-street parking etc be controlled and paid for by the fines levied?
I suspect there must be some law somewhere preventing this because it seems such a logical thing to do.
Next year, there will be a poll to elect a new Wealden District Council.
Those standing for election should be asked to make clear how they intend to tame the uncontrolled parking.
We cannot continue as we are.