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news-update

update: Wealden Council response to Pevensey Bay Journal: 11 December 2019
Wealden Council responded to questions about the future of the Sea Road Car Park in Pevensey Bay with the following statement: “The meeting, which was scheduled for 8 December, had to be postponed due to the General Election. We are aware of the importance of the car park and the role it plays supporting the local tourist economy. We will be discussing the paper put forward by the parish council when we meet, and will be in contact with PPC once any decisions have been made”.

Concerns are growing about the future of Pevensey Bay as a visitor destination today (December 10) as a decision making process began at Wealden Council about the fate of the Sea Road car park

The car park, which is the key visitor access point to the Bay, has been the subject of discussion for a number of years.

The site of the car park, which is also home to the Information Centre and public toilets, is a fundamentally important resource and a key part of the profile of the Bay

Questions about the future of the car park have now come into sharp relief following a discussion that took place behind closed doors yesterday (9 December) at Wealden Council.

Pevensey Parish Council at their meeting held on 11 November, discussed the subject.

In a report to the Council, dated 7 November, chairman Councillor Peter Lowton, provided an update to council on the recent meeting between the Chairman and Clerk and Wealden District Council, concerning their future plans for Sea Road Car Park in Pevensey Bay.

In his report he sought approval for the document which set out the parish council “aspirations” for Sea Road Car Park which he advised to be forwarded to WDC’s Asset Management Group.

He said, “members will be aware that Pevensey Parish Council have administered Sea Road Car Park on behalf of WDC since 1993. In return WDC have paid PPC 33% of the car park takings. This amounts currently to approximately £10100 gross or £8220 net a year and forms an essential part of the Parish Councils budget.

He suggested “the current licence was signed in 1993 and appears not to have been updated since. Although discussions have taken place between WDC and PPC at regular intervals during this period concerning various issues including car park charges, charging periods, the issuance of fixed penalty tickets and the hosting of events in the car park inc vehicles of yesteryear”.

Explaining the importance of the car park he said, “the car park itself also hosts a free standing building which comprises public toilets and what is currently the tourist information centre. PPC have not historically had involvement in or responsibility for the administration of the public toilets or the tourist information centre. It should be noted that the latest figures supplied by WDC indicate that whilst the car park itself generates income the public toilets generate a substantial net loss.

“More recently WDC have indicated their intention to review the car park in its entirety, largely because of the net financial cost to WDC.

“I understand that WDC’s Asset Management Group will be considering an options paper at their meeting to be held on 8 December 2019. Unfortunately WDC will not disclose the options being put forward. However they have invited PPC to submit an outline paper which sets out its aspirations for the future of Sea Road Car Park. Hence this paper being drafted”.

In the document he says, “in so doing PPC are not making a binding commitment. Moreover PPC would be using the opportunity to emphasise a number of important factors”

The chairman outlines the importance of the site with clarity and purpose. He says;

• The car park itself is an important tourist amenity
• The public toilets are an important tourist amenity
• The income PPC derive from administering the car park forms an essential part of the PPC annual budget.
• Both the car park itself and the toilet facilities are in need of improvement.

He goes on to explore the importance of the December meeting of WDC, “depending on the decision made by WDC at their December meeting, PPC will thereafter have to either a) enter into detailed negotiations with WDC regarding any future licence to administer Sea Road Car Park or b) enter into detailed negotiations with WDC regarding any future licence to administer Sea Road Car Park and the building encompassing the public toilets or c) potentially have to urgently reconfigure its budget for 2020/21 to take into account the loss of income derived from its administration of the car park.

The council noted the report and approved the document about ‘the aspirations for the future of Sea Road Car Park’ and agreed for the document to be forwarded to WDC.

Yesterday (December 9), The Pevensey Bay Journal asked for this document to be placed in the public domain so that residents could see the importance of the questions to the future of Pevensey Bay as a visitor destination. The document whilst identified as an appendix to the meeting minutes was not made available.

This was done at 8:30pm yesterday evening and the Pevensey Bay Journal will publish this document to enable residents to see the gravity of the circumstances related to the Sea Road Car Park and the potential risks to Pevensey Bay as a visitor destination, in relation to the consequences of any decision made by Wealden Council in December.

In releasing the document last night, Pevensey Parish Council, pointed out, “this is not a business case and it was drafted to simply try to ensure WDC understand the importance of a car park being retained in Pevensey Bay and also that the income PPC derive from managing it is essential”.

Having read the document, Simon Montgomery, editor of the Pevensey Bay Journal said, “this is a credible, well argued document, that puts the case for Pevensey Bay as a visitor destination with clarity and purpose. The future of the Sea Road Car Park is fundamentally important to us as residents and to the footprint of our fragile base as a visitor destination. There are so many questions about what will happen next with the car park and so much is up in the air that we need to know what Wealden Council is going to do”.

He noted what Chairman to the Parish Council, Peter Lowton, had said, in relation to his document sent to Wealden Council when he explained I understand that WDC’s Asset Management Group will be considering an options paper at their meeting to be held on 8 December 2019. Unfortunately WDC will not disclose the options being put forward.

Talking about Peveney Parish Council, Simon said, “we are blessed now with a pro-active parish council that fully understands the desperate economic and social context in which decision making has to be made. they speak with clarity and purpose and argue the case for Pevensey Bay with the kind of switched on cautious purpose that we need. The point that the chairman has made in relation to the way in which Wealden District Council is talking behind closed doors is well made.

Talking about Wealden District Council, Simon said, “as a newspaper the Pevensey Bay Journal has been communicating with Wealden Council for over two years now. Bay Life online has been communicating with Wealden Council for over ten years.

“In those dealings, I have found Wealden Council to be honest and responsive to residents questions and concerns”.

He added, “what is happening with the decision making process with the Sea Road Car Park is of fundamental importance, not just to resident and visitor parking, but to the Information Centre and the business interests in the Bay, which are growing.

“The restoration of the Bay Hotel, for example is changing the business axis of the Bay. New retail shops are arriving, such as the bike shop at Anderida House. What is happening is changing the perception of Pevensey Bay as a location for residents and business re-location”.

“In this context, we need to know that the future of the Sea Road Car Park will be safe, secure, sustained, managed and profiled, together with the Information Centre and the public toilets.

“The decision making process should not be made behind closed doors”.

Simon suggested, “the value of the local press is that power can be held to account, this has been the case for close to 300 years in this country. Perhaps the local press matters more now in 2019 than the local press has ever done.

“Wealden Council needs to be held to account with the decision making process with the Sea Road Car Park”.

The Pevensey Bay Journal is asking that the discussions held yesterday by the Wealden District Asset Management Group about the Sea Road Car Park are made public, and that a public meeting is held in Pevensey Bay, at which representations from both Wealden Council and Pevensey Parish Council are made that will explain the seriousness of the context here for the Bay as a visitor destination.

Solutions in these harshest of economic times must be found for our future as a visitor destination in relation to the Sea Road Car Park and the decision making process should involve us all.

Given the portentous nature of the question of what will happen to the Sea Road Car Park. Pevensey Parish Council added today (December 10), “the Parish Council has a very good close working relationship with Wealden District Council and we are grateful to be able to put forward our aspirations for Sea Road car park on behalf of local people. Hopefully Wealden will take these on board and will continue to work with the parish council in delivering what is an essential local amenity both for tourism and local business”.

UDDATE
Wealden Council responded to questions about the future of the Sea Road Car Park in Pevensey Bay with the following statement (11 December): “The meeting, which was scheduled for 8 December, had to be postponed due to the General Election. We are aware of the importance of the car park and the role it plays supporting the local tourist economy. We will be discussing the paper put forward by the parish council when we meet, and will be in contact with PPC once any decisions have been made”.