A tale of two districts – why does wealthy Wealden not charge for parking while the cost of parking in Hastings just doubled?

When town centre parking charges virtually doubled at the start of this month there was a sense of disbelief.

Paul Bridges who owns a martial arts academy in Earl Street told Hastings In Focus: “…nice way to kill off the town centre and old town in one move! Who’s decision was this?”

The decision was made by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and even on Tuesday, almost a week after the new charges were introduced veteran Labour Councillor Godfrey Daniel was still trying to persuade the council to change its mind – he failed.

While Hastings – the poorest area of East Sussex – has to deal with doubling of parking charges, in Wealden, one of the most affluent parts of the county, there are no parking charges at all!

“Sadly in these difficult times the Conservatives who run ESCC are unwilling to admit their mistakes and it will be the people and businesses of Hastings who are condemned to pay the price,” he told HIF after the meeting.

What impact are new parking charges having on footfall in Hastings town centre?

On Tuesday ESCC held a full council meeting and there Mr Daniel appealed to Councillor Claire Dowling, the Lead Member for Transport and Environment to think again about the swingeing increases to the cost of parking being applied at a time when the owners of town centre businesses are still reeling from the closure of their businesses during the Coronavirus lockdown.

“Everyone I met in this poorest district in East Sussex is up in arms thinking the county council doesn’t care about them or care if their businesses suffer,” Mr Daniel told the meeting.

Godfrey Daniel – Made a plea to the county council to reverse parking charge increases.

“You made the decision in January to impose increases… you need to recognise that the world has changed since then and you need to review this decision,” he added.

And Mr Daniel pointed out that in Wealden – Councillor Dowling’s area – there are no parking charges: “In Wealden there are no charges at all in what is the richest part of the county,” Mr Daniel said.

“Please can you review?” he asked, “I wouldn’t want the county council to be seen to be closing down Hastings,” he concluded.

But Ms Dowling was unmoved saying that falling footfall in town centres was not down to parking but to the change in the way people shop and the increasing amount of online shopping being done: “It’s wrong to suggest businesses are suffering because parking charges are increasing,” she said.

She went on to say that many members of the public still had concerns about going in to town centres, people were “wary and scared,” she said. She went on to say that laying the blame for reducing town centre footfall on parking charge increases was wrong.

ESCC, she said would have to weigh up all issues as part of its economic plan that will chart the way forward.

While implementation of the new charges that have effectively doubled the cost of on-street parking in Hastings appeared to come as a surprise to many the plans have been in the pipeline for some time.

Exactly a year ago the county council conducted a public consultation on the issue and the full details of what was to come were released in January and reported here on Hastings In Focus.

From January.

We asked Hastings Borough Council if it had made any representations to ESCC opposing the new increased parking charges, we were told: “Kim (council leader Kim Forward) has written to Councillor Keith Glazier, the leader of ESCC, to ask him to reconsider, at this time, the increase in charges.”

What is your view of the new parking charges being levied in the town centre? Tell us in the comment section below.

22 thoughts on “A tale of two districts – why does wealthy Wealden not charge for parking while the cost of parking in Hastings just doubled?

  1. It’s absolutely disgusting, we are not Brighton or Heathrow airport, but a small struggling, poverty stricken fishing town. There is an argument that people are wary about visiting the town due to COvid and have changed their shopping habits. However the doubling increase of Hastings parking will truly put the nail in the coffin. The argument of change in shopping styles is something to embrace and acknowledge but ESCC needs to plan how to get people back out of their homes and spending money within the local economy thus generating income for everyone including the council. If people are not out and about, spending money, shops will close, amusements will struggle and close and we will end up with desolate town which no one will visit. It’s extremely short sighted of ESCC and would hazard a guess that those making the decisions live in the west of the county! As clearly if they lived in Hastings their view would be completely different.
    Exasperated/disappointed/angry at decision makers.

    1. Too expensive to park in Hastings now, so rather than supporting local shops and businesses, I feel forced to continue to shop online.
      Perhaps this is another forced move towards a cashless society, and total control over the population and their privacy? (Think very carefully about what cashless actually means)

  2. Putting up the car parking charges will stop people coming to hastings .As an example I dont go to Brighton anymore because of the cost of parking. It seems strange that a town that relies on tourism is being made to to push tourists away it seems to me that ESSC wants hastings to fail as an attraction

  3. Two quick comments. It’s curious that it is Godfrey Daniel urging reduced or free parking charges. My understanding (I may be wrong, local rumour mill being what it is) is that on an earlier occasion that HBC was urged to get on with building houses on the Cornwallis Street car park opposition was led by Godfrey because of the loss of car park income. The other point is your picture. To upgrade the visitor experience we need to lose all parking in some of the most visually and historically enticing locations, and the main pedestrian thoroughfare to the seafront and pier which you show is surely one of those. People may not want to visit or perhaps re-visit a place where they constantly have to navigate and see parked cars. Nowadays there are plenty of places to go to where they don’t have to put up with that.

  4. When the town centre is in decline and the foot-fall is fading away, now is the time to cut parking charges and provide more parking space., The proposed increase in parking charges is short sighted and financially flawed. Shops and businesses will further suffer and close leaving a hole in the Borough Council’s Business Rate income. In addition, people will lose jobs in the town, leading to an increase in local poverty.

  5. Perhaps if a park and ride was made available ….free of charge would be great then maybe both council and customers would be satisfied but squeezing everyone inro a couple of vastly overpriced car parks is not going help anyone.

  6. It’s such a pity. Parking up for an couple of hours while you mooch around the Old Town, visit Hastings Contemporary, or have a bite to eat near the net sheds, or even go to support The Stables theatre as the volunteers there give their time freely for the community is now a decision to be taken seriously. Adding £6.00 to the cost of finding g a bargain in an antique shop stops it being a bargain! Short sighted, money grabbing, it will backfire badly.
    One of the richest cities in Europe, Luxembourg, had free parking for residents and charges €1 per hour for visitors, and the public transport is free.
    That’ show to make a thriving economy.

  7. I had to work in courthouse street on Monday and need to access materials in my van all day, as well as having to move the van around the old town because you can’t get the van into the main car parks and the 2/4hr restrictions it cost me £25 for the privilege of going about my normal business,

  8. If ESCC bothered to read social media reactions to the rise they’d clearly see the opposition to it. From the moans I’ve heard from locals, and visitors, many will either use the cheaper HBC carparks, or go elsewhere. High on street parking charges are hardly going to encourage visitors to stay in Hastings when there are cheaper options in other towns nearby. A deplorable decision that needs reviewing.

  9. I’ve researched the situation and found out that it is more expensive to park on the street in the Old Town for 4-hours than it is to park in the NCP in Soho for 24-hours!
    This cannot be right!

  10. The only parts of Hastings I now visit are Silverhill and the Supermarkets. I did use the shopping centre and visit the chip shops in the old town but will no longer do so because of these exhorbitent charges. Should there be something that I want from the town centre I will take a day out and visit another town for a day out as I would prefer to buy from a shop, rather than online.

  11. Is this a f*~king joke? Hold on… . . . Nope, it’s definatley July, sorry but i just had to check the calander thinking “hah! i think they got me” hoping niavly that it was April and i’d been made to look a ‘real’ April fool! look, i do think i have a reasonable level of inteligence but im now musing to myself that i may not be smart enough to know im stupid. can someone please explain how, when, and why it was decided that was a good idea. P.S. can it be explained in the simplest of terms though, just in case i am that stupid. in fact, maybe throw in a couple pictures to play it safe.

  12. As a family that lives just a bit too far to walk to and from the seafront and shops, this hike increase now means that instead of enjoying the shops and cafés and activities and spending our money in local businesses, or enjoying a little stop off at the beach on the way home from work, we are thinking twice about what and how long we are going for, we can’t financially justify spending that kind of money on parking to go to a cafe and will limit our visit to specific shops without browsing any others. We work in Hastings earning Hastings wages not Brighton or London. We live and shop here ALL year round supporting local businesses, this is now further curtailed. It should also be pointed out that Hastings average annual wage is £7000 BELOW the national average. This ridiculous price increase is sabotage of our Town’s viability and Dowling’s home district of Wealden having no parking fees smacks of corruption.

  13. I don’t particularly like going into the Town Centre anyway but with the cost of parking going up to a ridiculoyus amount I won’t go at all.. Will go and do my shopping elsewhere. Glynde Gap has Boots Poundland PetsRUs Next Tesvo B+ Q Currys B+ M + M+ S- everything you need. This will kill The Town Centre. You already have to pay till 9pm in the Old Town. Way to go Hastings Borough Council. You really don’t want visitors do you?

    1. Street parking is controlled by the County Council. Hastings Council controls the car parks, which are cheaper.

  14. Might it be that ESCC figures that Hastings is heavily Labour and might as well be squeezed for the benefit of the ESCC? In any case, Hastings has the means to push back: reduce fees in its car parks, all of which it controls. ESCC only controls the streets.

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