County councillors from Eastbourne are calling for a larger share of the money raised from parking fees in an effort to repair the town’s damaged pavements.
In a motion to be debated at a full council meeting next month, Liberal Democrat councillors Pat Rodohan and Colin Swansborough are calling for at least half of the surplus funds from the Eastbourne Controlled Parking Scheme to fund pavement repairs within the town.
A similar motion, inspired by local campaigner Marie Hennelly, was unanimously backed by Eastbourne Borough Council at a meeting in November last year.
The councillors met to discuss the motion with Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment, at a meeting on Monday (February 11).
At the meeting, Cllr Rodohan said: “What the public are saying to us is ‘enough is enough, fix our pavements’ and ‘we see this as one way of getting our pavements fixed’.
“I know the arguments, but to the public it seems like the parking money goes in to a big pot and ends up being spent everywhere but Eastbourne.
“When the parking came in, we were promised that the money would be spent in Eastbourne – on the park and ride which never materialised, on pavements, better roads and all the rest.
“But it hasn’t happened and the public see it hasn’t happened.”
While the motion will move forward to a county council debate, officers are recommending it be turned down.
In a report, officers say the county council runs its repairs programme according to an asset plan which prioritises maintenance on the basis of need and risk across the county. It does not allocate the funding geographically or per head, the report says.
By running its repairs programme this way, officers say, the council receives incentive funding from the Department for Transport, which it would put at risk by moving to a different model.
However, the report also highlights how the council spent £436,736 on repairing Eastbourne pavements this financial year and has plans to spend £300,000 on further repairs in 2019/20.
Officers also say much of the recent parking scheme surplus has already been invested in Eastbourne, with £2m going towards the town centre regeneration programme last year.
Despite this argument, Cllr Swansborough argued that residents were at risk as a result of the poor state of repair.
He said: “You seem to be going back to a situation I last saw about 30 years ago, where people were afraid to go out of their doors, especially elderly people who are a bit less nimble, because of the state of the pavements.
“It is amazing how many times people complain about areas of pavement which don’t quite meet the criteria for being repaired.
“In the other room we deal a lot with the finances of the council, but there simply has not been enough money allocated to the pavements in Eastbourne to keep them safe for our local residents.”
However this argument was disputed by another Eastbourne councillor at the meeting, who argued Eastbourne Borough Council needed to do more to prevent the damage from taking place.
Cllr Barry Taylor (Con. – Meads) said: “One of the major problems – and I certainly notice it – is the fact that pavements are being broken as quick as they are being repaired.
“I think Eastbourne Borough Council could do a lot to try and make sure we bring forward a bylaw like that.
“The other reason I find is the fact that Eastbourne Borough Council is responsible for street cleansing.
“In my area we have wide pavements and I am always annoyed that two-tonne road sweepers go trundling down our brickette pavements sucking out all the sand.
“If we could control in some way the damage that is done to our pavements, then the resources would be enough to cover.”
The motion is set to be debated at a full council meeting on March 26.