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THIS WEEK ** BREAKING: Eastbourne Herald put up for sale

COMMUNITY The One and Only Tom Fitzpatrick is Back: Ocean View, Pevensey Bay

LETTERS Christine Fenner and Jo Belcher: Support us and the pond and the village of Westham


Bay Life understands that plans to implement Pay and Display here in Pevensey Bay are more advanced than circumstances might suggest

The statement made to us by East Sussex County Council and a statement made by Wealden Council to Pevensey Parish Council subsequent to our story about the arrival of a radical change in parking arrangements here, in our view, is only part of the story.

Our story was based on a source that explained to us that a person had been appointed to analyse the traffic flow in Pevensey Bay in preparation for the radical change.

We note that Wealden Council has not denied this point.

Since there is manifest evidence that discussions are already taking place at Wealden Council with regard to the change, our view is that a denial of the basis of the story is unlikely to take place.

That would be logical, Bay Life suggested, in a Mr Spock voice, with a raised eyebrow.

We believe that the decision to proceed will be taken on December 13 at a full cabinet meeting.

The Cabinet makes key decisions covering a four month period. In our view the plan to implement Pay and Display may well begin as soon as April 2018.

We note in the statement made to Bay Life in response to our story Pay and Display comes to Pevensey Bay. It is rude to spit in the street unless you do it with the style of Sharleen Spiteri, that East Sussex County Council acknowledges discussions are taking place about the matter.

In a statement made to us, they said “a review of on-street parking enforcement in Wealden is ongoing following concerns raised by residents and traders about the increase in inconsiderate parking and the lack of enforcement.

“The enforcement of parking restrictions across the district is currently the responsibility of Sussex Police, but Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council are looking at alternative options to address the concerns raised.

“One option would be the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement which would enable the county council, as the highway authority, to take over parking enforcement from Sussex Police. This has already happened in Eastbourne, Hastings and Lewes.

“It is important to stress that discussions are ongoing and no decision has been made to introduce on-street parking enforcement in Pevensey Bay or elsewhere in Wealden district”.

One reading of the statement is that East Sussex County Council is treading very carefully between the cracks not to tell the community that Pay and Display is coming.

Subsequent to our story, utilising Pevensey Parish Council as the monkey to play the organ grinder, Wealden Council said “Decriminilisation of on Street Parking is to be discussed at a Committee meeting of WDC (Wealden District Council) in December 2017 where a decision will be made as to whether this will progress. If approved implementation will take between 18 – 24 months – so a long term project. No decisions have been made to date”.

Malcolm Lawson, the clerk to council here, always plays a straight bat. He has authority in the community, combined with knowledge and wit and understanding.

The question here is why Wealden Council has not talked directly to the community. In all the emerging discussions we are yet to see a media release by Wealden Council about any discussions and proposals in Pevensey Bay with regard to Pay and Display. Our view is that communications should be be taking place now.

No doubt local businesses and residents will watch with interest to see what is said following the cabinet meeting that is about to be held.

The hope is that we will see clarity, honesty and a pledge to engage with the community.

This openness and engagement is what we have seen with the critical question about the Beach Tavern development, the feasibility study for the beach huts and most importantly with the development at all stages with the Wealden Local Plan.

Planning questions with local developments are now much more nuanced. What is happening with the plans for yet another faux modern monstrosity in Val Princeps Road is a prime example.

Here we have a question that will be writ large right across the community, involving all our parking arrangements, all our car parks, all our side roads and all our businesses.

Already what is manifest is the alarm bells that are ringing amongst both residents and the local business community.

Here of course we have a unique and fragile visitor infrastructure that needs to be supported and developed to meet our needs.

We do not need only a library fit for the 21st century, we need writ large a road system and infrastructure fit for the 21st century.

We agree with our MP, Huw Merriman. He says, “Rother and Wealden are one of only 15 council districts in England that have not taken on responsibility for parking enforcement.

“However, I am supportive of the decision of Sussex Police regarding parking policy as I don’t think that police officers should be issuing tickets to people who overstay the time limits of parking bays, especially as the revenue from the penalty notices goes into central government and we do not see any local benefit and nor do the police.

“I think it is time that the councils considered taking over the responsibility for parking enforcement in towns such as Bexhill, Battle and Rye. Doing so would also bring in local revenue that could be spent on improving congestion and road safety”.

The key point is the possibility that Pay and Display here in Pevensey Bay could bring in local revenue.

Residents, businesses and commentators doubt that any money will be spent here. Bay Life argues that this is possible.

If you are a young person in Pevensey Bay, as our opinion writer, Dani Lee points out, your prospects of finding work here are significantly limited.

We are desperate for investment here and there is none.

Pay and Display could mark the moment when this investment begins to happen, as part of a much bigger review and strategy for residents and businesses here.

Perhaps Wealden Council can say nothing at the moment for some very good reasons. There is an order to the events and protocol as well of course to be followed.

Quite rightly, as both East Sussex County Council and Wealden Council say, no decisions have been made.

Perhaps this circumstance is about to change. If this is the case, our view is that the Wealden Council should open a pop up shop, put on display the plans and begin to engage with the community in a meaningful way.

The woman who paints the community billboards that bring such cheer to visitors and residents with her signs of the times and social comments at the traffic lights on the corner of the Wallsend Road here in the heart of the Bay, might be able to help with the display boards.

What is important, whatever happens next, is that communications channels are opened between Wealden Council and the community over the question of Pay and Display.

Such big questions are already being asked. Our view is that these communications should be directly with the community.

If we were to add the Cabinet lead time of four months in the argument being put that we are seeing a long term project, we would argue that the initial stage in planning with Pay and Display will be coming to Pevensey Bay as early as April 2018.

How long is a piece of string? Long enough perhaps to measure the pavements and begin to size them up.

Bay Life is beginning to open our advent calendar, behind one of the windows we believe is confirmation that Pay and Display is coming to Pevensey Bay.

If this is the case, we will be seeing the most radical change and transformation of our shop fronts that we have seen in a generation. In our view the campaign to support businesses and residents here with regard to the change should begin now.

The change, as we have indicated, if money is invested in the local road infrastructure and parking systems could hail long term benefits. Many local shops, services and residents disagree.

Our view is that lobbying and campaigning with regard to the change should begin now. There are so many questions that will have to be answered.

The first of these questions is the one offered to us by the man who says ,”I want your laundry days to be fun. Why not drop in for a chat and wash away your worries”, Peter Stacey, who runs the popular Pevensey Pete’s Laundry Services, here in Pevensey Bay.

He told Bay Life (13 October 2017), “I’m concerned as a business owner it will affect me hugely my customers will not tolerate paying to park to come in to do their Laundry they will migrate elsewhere I know this to be the case as I’ve asked them outright and I’d say 40% won’t want to pay. This is of great concern to me as a local community business”.

There would be no surprise, in our view to see confirmation that Pay and Display is coming to Pevensey Bay as soon as December 14, the day after the scheme is approved in principle by Wealden Council cabinet.

Simon Montgomery