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London Road traders say parking charges killing trade
3:57pm Sunday 28th October 2012 in News
For years it has proved a popular place for people looking to pick up a bargain from independent traders.
But are the recent parking charge hikes by Brighton and Hove City Council leading to the death of London Road?
This is the view of dozens of traders who claim the on-street tariffs of £3.50 an hour, introduced this April, have led to income dropping by a third, while some have lost their livelihoods.
Council bosses maintain the charges are reducing congestion, improving air quality and encouraging people to use other forms of transport.
But Ann Townsend, who owns a business premises in London Road, said: “This has had an absolutely disastrous effect on local businesses.
“Every shop and outlet in the London Road area has the same story to tell.
“Overnight there was a dramatic drop in trade with customers.
“This situation is econom- ically unsound. People are losing their jobs.
“Shop owners who have been trading in the area for many years are now losing their livelihoods.”
Ms Townsend urged the local authority to lift all parking charges, both on- street and in London Road car park, in December.
Long-term, she believes, the local authority should return tariffs to less than £1 an hour, which was “a level commensurate with an eco- nomically depressed area”.
In response, Ian Davey, the council’s transport committee chairman, said:
“London Road has some of the worst congestion in the city and some of the worst air pollution too – which puts people off from shopping there.
“However London Road also has some of the best public transport links in the city, with hundreds of buses carrying thousands of people going to and through the area each day.
“It’s close to Brighton and London Road stations, and many people also walk through the area on their way into the city centre.
“The Open Market and The Level will be completed next year and will have a positive impact on footfall in the area.
“Most people who travel to London Road either walk, cycle or go by bus but the car park remains a good value option for those who choose to drive.”
Coun Davey added use of London Road car park, where it cost £1 an hour to leave a vehicle during weekdays, had exceeded expectations by 15%.
But Neil Underwood, of Principal Meats, who has been trading in the area for 28 years, said: “I’ve never known it this bad in the area.
“Trade is down by a third on last year and parking is the only thing that’s changed.
“When the tariffs came in I had two regular customers who spend about £60 a month tell me they weren’t coming back.
"True to their word they haven’t.
“I’ve not been able to replace two staff members who have left.
"I’m working seven days a week just to survive.”
Graham Maides, of M and B Meats, said: “I’m struggling to do deliveries any more.
"Parking in the area will cost £14 a day, which I just can’t do.
“I have to leave my vehicles in Southover Street or Elm Grove areas where parking is free.
“There are times where I’m running along loading boxes of 30 or 40 kilos into the back of my son’s car while he’s still driving.”
A city-wide review of parking ended yesterday, the results of which will be published next year.