LANGUAGE schools have accused the council of putting the town’s moneyspinning foreign students business at risk with new parking changes.
Many were unhappy when the Stade coach park was shut as part of the Jerwood Gallery redevelopment, and coaches redirected to parking bays in Falaise Road.
But now Hastings Borough Council (HBC) wants to let cars park in half of these bays overnight, saying there are not enough coaches to justify the previous arrangements.
The changes were discussed at a heated meeting of the Hastings Overseas Student Advisory Council (HOSAC) held on Wednesday night, and will now be sent for final approval from the HBC parking department.
Jackie Milton, who runs a language school in the Old Town, was furious. She said: “I don’t need to remind people that the student business is one of the biggest forms of income for Hastings, so why does the council continue to make it difficult for them?
“We will end up losing business to other towns who are willing to ensure that coaches can park in the evenings, and not have to hunt around for parking and drivers having to worry about their times.
“I urge the council not to take this parking away until you have another suitable place for coaches to park,” she added.
But HBC head of tourism Kevin Boorman said: “When we first went to Falaise the language schools said there was not enough parking there but especially overnight it is often only half full, and sometimes there are no coaches at all.
“We have had complaints from people who have to park quite a way from the White Rock Theatre and so we need to make the best available use of the space. There will still be room for 12 to 14 coaches.”
The Save our Stade group raised the issue of the theatre when the new parking rules first came up for consultation and it has renewed its calls for coaches to use part of Rock-a-Nore car park.
Mr Boorman said the road was too narrow but former coach driver Chris Bowman said it was never a problem in the past.