ROCK-A-NORE, HASTINGS, TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK - EAST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL TO RESOLVE URGENTLY
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Whenever the weather is kind enough, many thousands of both tourists and residents head for Hastings seafront and, in particular, the Rock-A-Nore area. Not only does this attractive locale host many small businesses reliant on tourist trade but also the Jerwood Gallery, stunning beaches, close proximity to the picturesque Old Town – as well one of the town's main car parks.
Over the past five years, with ever-increasing regularity, this car park rapidly fills to capacity resulting in instant gridlock along Rock-A-Nore Road from midday onward - due to the total absence of any traffic control effectively preventing further vehicles entering the area. The problem is exacerbated by the traffic light sequence at the junction of Rock-A-Nore Road and The Bourne, which allows only a handful of vehicles to exit onto the main road during a given sequence. In recent times, it has taken over three-and-a-half hours of "stop-start" driving to travel the effective "loop" of entering the inevitably full car park only to then have to immediately exit, or at least attempt to!
Not only is this extremely frustrating for the occupants of vehicles caught in this risible situation (three and a half hours; consider the need for nature breaks, refreshment, animals included)) but what message does this send to tourists upon whose custom so many Hastings businesses rely? "Fancy going to Hastings next weekend? What, and get stuck in all that traffic again? No thanks - let's go to Rye/Bexhill/Eastbourne instead!" There are other, far more serious, considerations too.
Aside from the vast number of visitors visiting the museums, the Jerwood Gallery, the Blue Reef sea-life centre, the funicular railway, or dining in the plethora of restaurants and cafes, there are many more - thousands in high season - simply enjoying the beaches in the vicinity. If there was any form of accident or emergency (consider a heart-attack, a drowning, a fire, even a cliff collapse) then the emergency services would find it nigh on impossible to reach the scene of the emergency with the gridlock that prevails - and all the sirens and flashing blue lights in the world will not make one iota of difference in being able to gain access to the furthest-most point of Rock-A-Nore. When the latter was drawn to the attention of Hastings Borough Council their response was that the Emergency services would utilise the “Winch Road” that runs behind The Stade Open Space and the Jerwood Gallery. Yet they seem utterly ignorant to the fact this only services the fishermen’s beach as far as the Western boundary of the Rock-A-Nore car park – which thereafter would be gridlocked!
The car park is co-owned by Hastings Borough Council and the Foreshore Trust, managed by the Council, and with the Trust reaping the fiscal rewards of extortionate parking charges in place. One could be forgiven in suggesting some of this revenue be utilised in helping to resolve the problem. Yet it is East Sussex County Council that have responsibility for highways and traffic management but who seem to display a complete arrogance in regard resolving this critical problem.
The subject of a previous petition of 2,500 local people in 2016, which was delivered to the Lead Member for Transport and Environment at East Sussex County Council, Councillor Carl Maynard, elicited absolutely no response whatsoever, utter contempt seemingly the order of the day at ESCC. Earlier in the year Karl Taylor, Assistant Director of ESCC, 01273 482207, responded to a complainant as follows:
“I am aware to the problems being experienced at Rock-a-Nore and County Council officers are in discussion with the Borough Council about this on-going problem. I am afraid there isn’t an easy solution, and the roundabout that is mentioned in the petition is not a quick or cheap remedy. The traffic signals include the very latest vehicle detection technology and each of the different phases has been optimised, but our traffic signal engineers are going to have another look at the phasing to see if they can reduce the pedestrian phases as an interim measure.
Part of the problem is caused by motorists turning into Rock-a-Nore road to access the car park, only to discover the car park is full and immediately turn round and come out of Rock-a-Nore Road. It may be that these abandoned journeys into and out of Rock-a-Nore Road could be prevented by some electronic “Car Park Full” signing and my officers are discussing this with the Borough Council responsible for the car park”.
So ESCC are aware of the problem and how it is caused yet have done nothing to resolve the problem! It is that innocuous final statement that sums up the ineptitude of ESCC in dealing with the issue; they continually say they are “in discussions” with Hastings Borough Council as they would prefer to withhold the funding for what is so obviously needed to resolve the problem – the installation of surface-based, automatic barriers. This problem has existed for five years now, continues to fester, and get worse year on year.
East Sussex County Council needs to implement expedient measures NOW, before high season, to address these serious issues. Attendants should be engaged to properly manage the flow of traffic as an interim measure (paid for from the proceeds of the car park revenue perhaps) and the traffic light sequence should be amended while a longer-term solution is effected such as the automatic barrier. This ridiculous situation should be given priority attention to and, in signing this petition, you are expressing your frustration with East Sussex County Council and demanding they take remedial action IMMEDIATELY. No more series of self-serving committee meetings dragging on for months and suchlike but instant measures such as those suggested to get the problem resolved.
This petition therefore is calling on local Hastings MP, Amber Rudd, to properly support the constituents she represents and robustly tackle East Sussex County Council, as soon as possible, to instigate both effective temporary traffic-control measures (stewards, sign-boards etc.) as well as a longer-term remedial solution.
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