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Shepway District Council's u-turn over 'dangerous parking plans' on Princes Parade, Hythe

By Sean Axtell

A council has u-turned after a public dressing down for putting "lives at risk" over parking plans in a popular tourist spot.

Shepway District Council has built ticket machines on the opposite side of new parking bays on Princes Parade, a 40mph beachfront road in Hythe.

But now the authority said it takes people's concerns seriously and is looking at "alternative solutions" following a fierce public backlash.

Courtesy Keith Rogans
Courtesy Keith Rogans

They explained: “Residents and visitors are used to parking on the south side of Princes Parade and some concerns have been raised about the location of the payment machines.

"The Council takes these concerns very seriously and we are looking at an alternative solution.

"The scheme will only open when the Council is satisfied that the risks have been addressed.”

They didn't comment on why the machines were placed on the opposite side of the road in the first instance.

Tens of thousands of families visit the popular tourist destination each summer, stoking people's fears of accidents.

Estate agent Keith Rogans, 56, of Seabrook, who walks his dog on the beach, slammed the move as “illogical.”

Courtesy Keith Rogans
Courtesy Keith Rogans

“There must be some kind of rational thought behind the council doing this, but I can’t see any particular logic.

“I think it’s sad to see the parking meters going up, I’ve lived here for 40 years and it has always been free parking.

“Quite a few people are highlighting the dangers of setting up the machines like this. It would be interesting to get a response from the council.

He added: “So many people do more than 40mph down there. It is a busy stretch of road.”
Meanwhile scores of furious residents on Facebook page have hit out at the council's "thoughtlessness”.

Their criticisms centre on the mile long road’s insufficient crossing points – traffic lights and zebra crossings for example.

Andrew Green said: “Someone will be seriously hurt or worse, stupid positioning, no thought or process has gone into this – typical Shepway District Council.”

Gilsie Eddis added: “These meters are a total disgrace. Having to cross the road twice especially at weekends is going to be so dangerous, rant done.”

It comes as a petition to overturn the parking charges has drummed up more than 2,000 signatures.

The levies will stop people from using the beach and drive away tourism, according to some residents who have commented on the petition.

Late last year Cllr Ann Berry, Shepway District Council’s (SDC) cabinet member for transport, said the decision was made to improve parking flow and ease congestion on Hythe seafront, in anticipation of 150 homes and a leisure centre being built at the site.

But now a construction expert this week said the multi-million pound housing scheme “seems like a bad dream and a great gamble,” according to a construction expert.

Derek Maynard, a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, also claimed the project would haemorrhage £30 million of taxpayers’ money.

Shepway District Council applied to its own planning committee for permission in September to build 150 new homes, a leisure centre and green space on the old landfill site.

Mr Maynard, who recently moved to Hythe, is a qualified valuation surveyor with 40 years’ experience, who has delivered dozens of major UK commercial projects.

His complex cost analysis, available on the Save Princes Parade website, puts the scheme’s price tag at £99 million but claims it will generate just £70m.

The council said last week Mr Maynard’s concerns are either covered in the planning application or will soon be explained in a business plan.

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