Former Uckfield town councillor and past deputy mayor Jeremy Hallett asks whether there should be another town poll in Uckfield in a bid to find compromise and ensure money is invested in High Street. His comments can be seen below.
See too the latest statement issued by East Sussex County Council: September date for final decision on Uckfield High Street improvements.
Jeremy Hallett says: “Having met a fair number of individual people in the last week who are nervous that Uckfield High Street might be left unimproved, I would like to ask a couple of questions based on the comments to me.
“In summary as I see it. We have 23 parking spaces now in the High Street amended plan compared to 43 at present.
“We are gaining 70 on Luxford Field car park as commuters are being moved off – either to the station car park or roads that they can then walk from.
“Overall then a fair gain, especially as the Station Car Park has capacity for 170. I know there will be inappropriate parking whilst people adjust to what’s available, but, that is something all authorities are very aware of and will need to work sensibly with the police, PCSOs etc to enforce.
“There will need to be compromise, but, also thinking ahead. We may not live here, work here or own a shop here in one or ten years time but Uckfield then is what we have to think about. It is growing significantly because of the Ridgewood Farm and other developments which we all know are coming whether we like them or not.
“We will gain pavements widened, which in many places will make life pleasanter. Examples of problem areas are outside the Heart Foundation, George Moss Jewellers and the old Post Office building.
“The ability for everyone, whether we’re young and healthy, a mother with push chair or someone elderly trying to keep active who might not have good sight, or be that comfortable dodging people, to ALL move around the shops is crucial or the only winners will be internet and supermarket delivery services.
“The pavements are crucial for this, with deliveries in appropriate places needed for shops to have what we want. Including a couple of bus shelters with some seating in them will help the elderly and perhaps be nice for others of us to use on occasion also.
“Which leads back to parking. Our retailers have genuine needs for deliveries near, or even very near, their shops. Parking for people genuinely unable to walk far is also crucial. Some ordinary parking could perhaps be added back on Luxfords if specific parking is made available on the High Street for those who NEED it.
“For shoppers it is nice for quick purchases, collections, cashpoints etc to park outside the shop we want, but, for most people it is not crucial. I dislike walking in the rain, have arm problems so carrying things can be uncomfortable so I know not being right at the shop is not perfect, but, that’s never guaranteed and hopefully the extra parking will atleast guarantee parking even if it’s not exactly where I want it.
“No High Street, here or elsewhere ever guarantees your space where and when you want it so let’s not pretend it’s crucial as it’s not. Would you drive to Hailsham etc for the possibility (not guaranteed of course) of parking on their High Street outside the equivalent to a shop we have here?
“With minor final enhancements being enough to satisfy our NEEDS AND SOME OF OUR LIKES surely we have the information and intelligence between the County, Wealden and Town Council not to just throw our toys out of the pram where compromise is wanted by many. It may well be a once in a lifetime chance to keep what is a great town workable for the future.
“Think about it, parking and particularly deliveries are important, but, so too is actually being out on the High Street otherwise our community is finished.
“This will mean some compromise with shopper parking location but give genuine improvements of wider pavements and “street furniture”, even a handful of trees that can help with a bit of nature and shade. This combined with MORE ongoing FREE parking and we have a lot to offer.
“What is pretty universally viewed as unacceptable is the time proposed for the work to take. The south end of the High Street had days with nothing going on and very few where there were more than a handful of workers.
“Framfield Road’s work by utility contractors took an insane amount of time for exactly the same reasons and has left the road with a water leak. The key issue now surely is:
“How do we get the work done in a sensible timescale? If we don’t, that really could put our local retailers out of business. The High Street would recover over years, but, that’s not the point. The current retailers have committed their lives and often their life savings here and for poorly managed work to risk that is totally unacceptable.
“Finally, if East Sussex County Council aren’t aware that a lot of people want sensible compromise, should we spend about £5,000 on another town Poll as that surely would now be worthwhile to help keep well over a million pounds to help Uckfield before the next stage of its inevitable growth?”