So this is Christmas... no more free parking in Scrooge-like move by local council

PLANS to hammer Rye motorists with increased parking charges have been slammed by the Chamber of Commerce.

Rother Council is looking at bringing in a raft of proposals in a bid to squeeze every last drop of revenue from car parks in the town.

This includes scrapping free overnight parking, axing the one hour parking limit and launching a penalty ticket crack-down.

And Rother looks set to turn from Father Christmas to Scrooge as it cuts the traditional free parking in Rye during the weekends leading up to Christmas, which has provided a great boost for local traders. Rother says abandoning the seasonal scheme will save it £9,000.

One proposal will see the introduction of a permanent contracted car park enforcement team which will hit the town’s car parks seven days a week. The council predicts this will bring in an additional £30,000 income.

The introduction of an enforcement officer in August last year saw the number of penalty tickets issued in a month rocket from 38 to 285.

Currently Rye’s car parks are free after 6pm, but under the new plans there will be an overnight charge from 6pm to 8.30am, adding a potential income of £12,000 a year.

The minimum stay of one hour will be increased to two hours with the charge going up. The council could approve the changes at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting in Bexhill on Monday night.

Rye, Rother councillor Sam Souster said: “These proposals will damage trade in the town.”

Derick Holman, from Rye Chamber of Commerce, said; “To say that Rother District Council’s actions regarding parking in the town are disappointing is putting it mildly.

“We all appreciate that they need to cut their expenditure and maximise their income, but doing what they propose to do is just shifting their problems on to the towns retailers, who will lose income and profit literally at the expense of Rother’s gain.

“Let’s not forget that businesses are struggling already in many ways including the fact that their rates have increased in 2011 whereas domestic rates were frozen. They pay for garbage collection and run the gauntlet with Police Community Officers, who are not always that understanding of traders loading and unloading needs.

“The Rye and District Chamber of Commerce is working extremely hard to help the town and is currently working on initiating a jazz festival, relaunching a food festival (Wild Boar Week) and of course the Christmas Festival.

“If Rother can’t be bothered to assist and engender economic life and revival in Rye it’s a pretty poor show. Economy should be the current watchword, not simply charging more for services and passing on your problems to others. I would hope that they will reconsider these ill thought out proposals.”