TRAFFIC piled up in the Old Town on Sunday, bringing Rock-a-Nore Road to a standstill.
The predicted additional Bank Holiday traffic, the lure of the newly opened Jerwood, and an influx of road traffic due to rail maintenance work over the weekend, were all contributing factors.
The car park at Rock-a-Nore was full, and aside from resulting in gridlock on the approaching Rock-a-Nore Road, traffic was also heavy along the seafront.
Reports of delays of 45 minutes travelling from one end of Rock-a-Nore Road to the other, were commonplace.
With hopes for an increase in visitor numbers to bolster the town’s economy there is a fear that traffic chaos could become the norm.
Judith Monk, of Middle Road, travelling into the Old Town with her husband and grandchildren said: “It took us 45 minutes to travel from the beginning of Rock-a-Nore Road to the car park, turn around and return to the seafront.
“If this is a foretaste of what will happen during the May and June Bank Holidays and the summer season proper I dread to think how Hastings’ reputation as a welcoming place to visit will fare.”
The Jerwood Gallery reported a busy weekend, but with no negative feedback from visitors regarding traffic or parking.
Wayne Chalmers, operation supervisor at Blue Reef Aquarium, said of the traffic on Sunday and Monday: “It was a disaster, I have never seen it that bad before.
“One man queued 50 minutes from one end of the road to the other, and one lady had been waiting 40 minutes for her husband to arrive, as he was parking the car.”
Kevin Boorman, head of tourism for Hastings Borough Council, said that sheer weight of traffic was at the root of the problems rather than issues with traffic lights or blockages on Rock-a-Nore Road: “It was exceptionally busy on Sunday, as it was the first bank holiday weekend of the year, and bad weather was forecast for Monday.
“I think some of it was to do with their being no trains, and good publicity around the Jerwood Gallery. We are taking it very seriously, but there is no easy solution.
“We are looking at whether we can make better use of town centre car parks, and various other ways to make sure it doesn’t get so gridlocked in the future. I hope that those who were not able to find a space in Rock-a-Nore Road, were able to park elsewhere, and had a fantastic time.”