Seafront traders’ fury over parking charges

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Local Democracy Reporter
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New plans to extend seafront parking charges will kill the evening economy in Southend and speed up the decline of the High Street, furious traders say.

Southend Council’s Labour, Lib Dem and Independent-led administration wants to extend car parking charging hours along the seafront from 6pm to 9pm.

It is also bringing a new charge of £20 for anyone who wants to park more than ten hours. In addition, a new flat rate £2.50 an hour charge is proposed, which will mean increases on current charges of between 50p and £1.50 depending on the length of stay.

The current up-to-ten-hour charge will reduce from £18 to £17.50. The changes do not apply to areas around the Cliffs Pavilion.

Paul Thompson, from Southend Seafront Traders’ Association, said: “It will kill the night time economy, including firework displays. This is anti-business, anti-seafront.”

Philip Miller, owner of Adventure Island, said: “By charging more and more for parking it just increases the rapid decline of Southend High Street as it feeds off the seafront. They are also penalising locals as well as day visitors. You would think that after the two years of hell the High Street and seafront have lived through it would be more appropriate to reduce the costs to encourage trade?”

Tory leader, Cllr Tony Cox, said: “They haven’t learned their lesson from last year when they wanted to do this.

It was realised then this would be a complete disaster for the night time economy and they had to draw back from it and now they are proposing it again.

“The whole day tariff of £20 will make it one of the most expensive seaside towns to park in anywhere in the country.”

The Southend Pass, which costs £8.50 a month, allows residents to park anywhere for up to three hours without charge.

Cllr Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, said: “The increase in the parking hours will not affect local people if they’ve got the Southend Pass. Increasing charging times in the area will help reduce the incidences of danger and damage caused by poor driving and inappropriate parking so I think businesses ought to be promoting the Southend Pass rather than the negative approach that they took last year. We need those seafront businesses to say to their customers ‘have you signed up to the Southend Pass’? Stop moaning about the cost.”