HARD hit motorists in the Rye area were offered a crumb of comfort this week when Rother Council voted against introducing overnight charges in car parks,
They have also taken a softer approach to axing free parking in the run-up to Christmas.
The controversial plans to overhaul parking charges caused a storm of protest locally with a delegation of Rye councillors going to Rother and asking for parking charges to be reduced rather than increased.
Rother set up a Car Parking Review working group last October tasked with ways to increase car park income in excess of £100,000.
Plans to charge £1 to park overnight in any of Rye’s car parks have now been scrapped, however Rother councillors voted to extend charging hours from 8.30am - 6pm to 9am - 7pm.
Originally Rother was looking to cancel the usual suspension of charges for all car parks in the run-up to Christmas. Instead they are reducing free parking days from seven to free.
Rother will also be introducing an annual permit scheme for Gibbets Marsh car park at Rye with 50 permits up for grabs at £250 each. The idea is to encourage local businesses to use the car park.
Seasonal tariffs will be introduced at Gibbets Marsh with winter charges of £1.50 for up to two hours and £3.50 all day and summer charges of £2.50 for up to two hours and £4.50 all day.
Rother also wants to work with Rue Harbour Nature Reserve to start introducing charges at the Rye Harbour car park.
Bexhill Cllr Simon Elford, who chaired the working group, said: “We have tried to simplify parking in Rother. There are different problems in different areas.
“We needed to speak to the relevant people - residents, visitors, businesses, the Chamber of Commerce etc. We had excellent feedback which was very encouraging.”
“We have come up with an excellent plan to offer permits to businesses at an excellent rate.”
But Rye councillor Sam Souster asked how projected outgoings such as contract and enforcement teams, ticket machines and new signage would offset any savings.
Head of service Kim Ross said: “Signage etc will be looked at anyway; there is capital set aside. The project has dovetailed at the right time.”
Cllr Paul Lendon asked why there was not a flat rate across the whole of Rother.
But Battle councillor Kathryn Field said: “We recognise different communities have different needs for car parking. We are supporting the business community as well as the needs of residents and visitors.”
Cllr Sue Prochak said: “One size does not fit all. I would like to congratulate the working party.”