For some time now the Rye Highways Forum has been exploring better ways of managing traffic in the town in the absence of having the police or a dedicated traffic warden to control parking.
Our new Chief Inspector, CI Warren Franklin, met me recently to discuss the issue and he came up with an idea which could possibly be a runner. Bearing in mind the costs involved with having enforcement by a traffic warden or the police, and the lack of any likely progress being made in the near future by Rother District Council in any Civil Parking Enforcement Plan, the Chief Inspector considered a different approach should be considered. This was to employ a Community Warden paid for by Rye Town Council, if agreed, with a grant sought from the Safer Rother Partnership. The Community Warden would have a uniform denoting his or her authority, and paid for whatever hours and days in the week are agreed by Council. The rate of pay would need to be ascertained from Rother for similar community work. The position would need to be advertised, and might likely attract a retired person who would be pleased to have the opportunity to earn a little extra money. The Community Warden’s prime responsibility would be to remind motorists who have parked illegally, or overrun their time, to move on. It might be agreed for a notice from Rye Town Council to be placed on a vehicle’s windscreen drawing attention to the offence, for which action would be taken for a repeat offence. Obviously it would be necessary for the Community Warden to work closely with the police in such cases.
There would be many advantages. Firstly, the Community Warden would be visible to the public, and link into local commerce by talking to shopkeepers and giving them reassurance. Secondly, the Community Warden could be given the task to tackle low-level crime and anti-social behaviour, and pass on intelligence and information to the police and local authorities. Finally, through being a “greet and meet” type of person, and talking to people, it would be an encouragement to communities to work together for the better good. It is all about engagement, not enforcement, says the Inspector. It is about the “stick and carrot” approach which might just possibly be the answer. All this will be first debated at the next meeting of the Rye Highways Forum next month, followed by further discussion and deliberation by Rye Town Council.
Amber Rudd MP wrote her column in June that railway user groups are a fantastic source of information and enthusiasm. She mentioned SHRIMP, ESRA and BRAG, but omitted MLAG, our own Marshlink Action Group who under the chairmanship of Stuart Harland is as fully committed to the HS1 project as any other user group with whom it is associated. Stuart is rightly fighting to ensure that high speed Javelin trains stop at Rye when the rail link is extended in the future. The Rye rail line is currently one of the only lines in the country to be single track and not electrified. Stuart quite rightly says it would be a travesty if high speed trains sped through Rye without stopping. It is noted that Amber Rudd whilst promoting Hastings as a station stop she appears to exclude Rye. We need faster communication, not only for commuters, many of whom are growing in number having moved out of the London area due to housing costs, but also to encourage tourism for which Rye so greatly depends for its sustenance. I agree with Cllr Mary Smith who has said unless we make our case strongly in terms of tourism and regeneration the attraction of Rye will be lost.
Whilst on the subject of transport connectivity there is now the real fear that the drastic cuts in our bus services could cause isolation. Those without cars will discover that making hospital appointments, doing their shopping, visiting their families or perhaps more importantly getting to work or school will find life so much more difficult. It is reported that 60% of the cuts appear to be to services operating in this constituency where the need for public transport is probably more needed. Pat Hughes, from Rye and District Community Transport is doing her best to ensure the local 326 service can continual to function as at present.