Traders’ anger at council’s lack of grit

ANGRY traders say business has plummeted this week after Rother failed to grit the town’s main car park.

They said ‘lethal’ conditions in the Mount Street car park has put people off coming to the town.

Only the entrance and the top of the car park had been gritted, so any cars which struggled to get back out again.

Traders say they have been inundated with reports of cars skidding on the ice and motorists having to push their vehicles to get them out.

Liz Honey, of the Saffron Gallery, said: “We had a huge amount of complaints about the car park.

“Because Rother only gritted the entrance, cars were getting stuck and sliding just inside near the vets.”

Denise Harraway, owner of Spoilt Rotten, said: “It’s definitely affected business this week.

“People cannot get into the car park.

“It’s absolutely hazardous.

“If I was anyone thinking of coming to Battle for shopping, I would take one look at the car park, turn around and go home.”

Denise is one of a number of traders planning to lodge an official complaint with Rother District Council.

She said: “With all these businesses struggling in January and February, it would have been a help if the council had come and gritted the car park.

“As business owners we spend a huge amount on rates to have a shop in the town and they won’t clear the car park to let people in.”

Rae Stevens, owner of Curtains By Rae in Tills Courtyard, said: “It’s so dangerous.

“They need to put more effort in to it really.

“I have done my bit outside my shop.”

She added: “It’s lethal. You go in there thinking it’s clear then there is no way back.

“It’s a bit of a hidden drop really.

“You get down there and that’s it. You’re stuck.”

To make matters worse, the pedestrian pathway leading from the Mount Street car park to the High Street was also not gritted, leaving it up to disgruntled traders to clear the way for shoppers.

Simon Honey, from the Sussex Framing Centre, took a snow shovel to clear the pathway after witnessing a few older people struggling.

Battle Chamber of Commerce paid for the bag of grit used.

A spokesperson for Rother District Council said: “With regard to the council’s obligations to keep car parks clear of snow and ice, our advice is that there are no specific obligations in the similar way that the Highway Authority doesn’t treat footways and minor roads and will only treat secondary roads as and when time and resources permit.

“The council acknowledges the role its car parks play in the community and endeavours to treat them within the resources it has available.

“On Monday morning our workforce, along with that of the street sweeping contractor, started work at 6am treating accesses to public buildings and then moving on to the car parks.

“There are 30 car parks distributed around the 200 square miles that the district covers and our intention is to cover as many of these as we are physically able.

“Mount Street, because of its sloping nature, was among the first of the sites treated and salt was spread in the main access road to the car park and along the main circulation areas.

“I’m sure you will be aware from the many television articles that were carried last winter about road travel, just spreading salt will not clear snow.

“It needs the input of energy from moving traffic to spread and make the melting process work.

“Our own observations of Mount Street suggest that it has received much reduced level of usage over the past few days, and this is to be expected given the weather conditions, such that the degree of spread and effectiveness of the salt has been limited.

“We have revisited the site to provide further treatment and this is working its way into the car park.

“However, some areas remain affected by ice and snow and, as in the case of the highway, the motorist and user may have to exercise caution and discretion at times when using the facility.

“The council has an annual budget of approximately £72,000 for maintaining all of its car parks.

“Any severe weather treatment, as well as responsive and elements of planned maintenance and other capital costs, have to be found from this provision.

“The cost of annual permits, as indeed are car park charges in general, are a contribution towards car park running costs and are not set against any particular activity on a pro-rata basis.”