EAST Sussex County Council has approved proposals to increase pay and display parking charges in Hastings, Eastbourne and Lewes, saying that they are intended to encourage other forms of travel in town centres, reducing congestion and emissions as a result.(The Argus, January 20).

I can only assume that what it has in mind is something like, “Leave the car at home and take the bus or train, ride your bike or, quite simply, walk”.

So, let us take its first option and jump aboard the next omnibus that comes along.

Except, like many of the residents of these towns, we can’t, because even if we can afford the expensive fares, we either don’t live anywhere near a bus stop, or the bus doesn’t go anywhere near where we want to finish up.

And then there is the question of timetables. Cars are instant forms of travel but, if we use a bus, we can only get from A to B when our bus company decides to provide a service, and those are often cut back at times such as weekends. Who is going to queue for ages when there is a car available in the garage that can leave at a time that we want without any hanging about?

The same thing applies to train travel, only more so, because the towns in question share just seven stations between them, spread miles apart, and they aren’t exactly cheap either.

Ah well, isn’t there always the trusty bike for us to fall back on, as suggested by ESCC. Unfortunately no.

What it has forgotten is that cycling is weather dependent; how many of us leave our cars at home and, instead, ride through these towns when the rain is bucketing down, when half a gale is blowing, when there is ice or snow on the ground, or when there is a danger of going head over heels over the handlebars, having fallen into one of the numerous potholes that litter the county’s roads? Very few, I would have thought.

Making a decision to use a bike, instead of a car, also depends on geography.

Live somewhere flat and work and shop somewhere else that is equally flat, like all the way along Hastings and Eastbourne’s seafronts? Wonderful. We can probably get from one end to the other without even changing gear.

But what about if we live at the top of one of the many hills, in a place like Hastings, and we want to go into the town centre? Fine when we first set out, and can free wheel a lot of the way down, but no barrel of laughs when we have got to get off and push our machine a good part of the way home.

Walking? That all depends on how far our destination is away from our starting point. Bank on an hour to walke three miles and, of course, it also relies on the weather being conducive to that mode of travelling.

Buses? Trains? Bikes? Walking? I don’t think so.

In fact, I suspect (know?) that the council’s plans have little to do with “encouraging other forms of travel in town centres, reducing congestion and emissions as a result” and much more to do with finding yet another way of boosting the council’s coffers by emptying the pockets and wallets of the residents of Hastings, Eastbourne and Lewes.

Coming to a town near you in the not too distant future? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Eric Waters Lancing