Rye’s illegal parking problem has reached crisis point with two incidents in recent months where fire engines responding to calls have found themselves blocked.
Now people are calling for action to be taken before the situation ends in tragedy.
Both incidents were in the Citadel area at Market Road and Watchbell Street.
Rye currently has no traffic wardens and parking enforcement has become a real issue.
Speaking out at a meeting of Rye Town Council on Monday. resident John Howlett said: “This traffic problem is becoming a matter of life and death.”
Cllr Granville Bantick, who chairs the Rye Highways Forum, said: “The recent incidents of fire appliances not reaching their destinations when called out due to illegally parked vehicles blocking their path cannot be allowed to continue.
“Rye, with its ancient timber houses and shops, is a potential tinder box should a fire break out.
“A small fire, as happened last week whilst a shop-front was being renovated with a blow torch, could have become a bigger conflagration.
“The same applies to ambulances which could also be blocked. The Council has a duty to protect its citizens in conjunction with the police and emergency services.
“There is an obvious need for greater traffic management in Rye.
“Commercial vehicles are the greatest culprits for causing traffic chaos in the town.
“The police have done occasional swoops on motorist parked on double yellow lines, but their response is very limited due to their having to attend to other duties.”
Councillor Michael Eve said: “Why does Rother still stupidly insist on being one of the only councils in England not to decriminalise parking?
“It is about changing people’s behaviour. I know people in this town who think that if they get a ticket once in a while it is still cheaper than buying a parking permit.
“If they were getting fined once a week they would soon change their attitude.”
Pat Hughes, from Rye Community Transport, said: “The serious overstaying in East Street and Market Street is nearly all residents and people associated with businesses.
“We should ask the Chamber of Commerce to take their members to task. They seem very reluctant to do that.”
Commenting on decriminalisation, Pat said: “The cost of setting that up is estimated at £5 million. They did it in Lewes and are only now breaking even.
“The problem is you cannot cherry pick your area, you have to implement it across the whole district.”