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Brighton seafront parking doubles - and you'll need £20 in change
12:04pm Wednesday 4th April 2012 in News
The amount drivers need to shell out to park on Brighton seafront has rocketed overnight from £4 to £20 a day.
The £20 11-hour charge at Madeira Drive is the new summer rate, which replaces the old summer rate of £10 for 9 hours - and £7 for six hours.
The winter rate of £4, which ended on Saturday, will also rise to £5 once it is reintroduced in October.
The new charges are part of a comprehensive hiking of council parking charges revealed by The Argus last November.
With traders and visitors already counting the pennies, Tim Ridgway asks if this could herald the end of the traditional trip to the British seaside.
A stroll down the promenade, Kiss Me Quick hats and fish and chips – all are elements of the traditional day at the seaside.
But traders say parking charges, which shot up overnight from £4 to £20 a day, will force day trippers away from Brighton.
And with no cards or notes accepted by the majority of seafront ticket machines, motorists have to dish out heaps of coins to pay for their visit to the south coast.
It is part of a wide ranging revamp of parking prices introduced by Brighton and Hove City Council on April 1.
The Green-led local authority said it had increased charges to encourage visitors to think about alternative means of transport.
But, as the impact is taking effect, traders near Brighton and Hove’s most famous attraction, the beach, claim it will drive people away.
Glen Harman, who owns Waves restaurant, said the revised fees will mean he has to pay nearly £3,000 a year to park outside his shop in Madeira Drive during the high season.
He said: “We expected some rise but £20 is just too much. Peoples’ incomes are not increasing so it is just driving people away.
“Those that do stay are not spending money in the shops so it’s taking money away from the town. It’s all about greed.”
The start of the new financial year saw new charges for the 363 spaces in Madeira Drive which are used by tens of thousands of visitors to the city every year.
Prices have been increased by more than 100% and the council’s “simplification” of the charges means that there are no longer three, six and nine hour bands.
This means motorists’ staying longer than four hours have to pay for a new 11 hour band.
Combined with a change of season, all day parking went up from £4 to £20.
Mr Harman added: “It’s like something a schoolchild would have come up with. People come here and want to stay for about six hours not 11 so why have they got rid of that band?
“There were people that came down here to walk the dog on Monday and it cost them £6.”
Dozens of motorists were spotted discussing whether to pay the revised tariff when The Argus visited yesterday.
Some were seen turning around when they saw the cost. Others left their vehicles in bays without paying for a ticket.
Photographer Gary Silver, co-owner of the Jag gallery in the seafront, sent The Argus pictures of Madeira Drive yesterday morning.
There were virtually no cars parked on the usually busy street despite it being the school holidays for Easter. He said: “Normally, cars are cruising up and down searching for a parking place.
“The result is plain to see – no parking revenue for the council and no passing trade for my business.”
“One friend of mine has already said she came down to the beach for a picnic, saw the prices and went to the park instead.”
With traders paying about 1% to the bank to get change, they said they are footing the bill for the failure of most of the machines to accept cards or notes.
Greg Harman, of Life’s A Beach shop in Madeira Drive, said: “There are people driving up, seeing the price and then driving off again. Those that do stay, all day long are coming into the shop and asking for change.”
The revised city-wide parking fees were exclusively revealed by The Argus in November.
Despite the local authority asking people for their views on all the aspects, only 36 responses were received. Ten of these were about the charges in Madeira Drive which led to the local authority introducing reduced year-round rates for 65 bays to the east of Yellowave beach sports venue and cafe.
East Brighton councillor Gill Mitchell, who campaigned for the reduced charge, said: “I’m pleased to have worked with Yellowave so the fees at the far end are not quite as high however what we are left with is a very confusing system.
“We would have been better to reduce the fees rather than have people having to find 20 one pound coins to put into a machine to stay all day.”
A council spokeswoman said: “ Car parking tariffs are highest where there is most demand for spaces and are set to encourage people to think about alternatives.
“The seafront is easily accessible on foot and by bicycle and is served by several regular buses. During the summer months visitors often waste valuable time queuing in their cars or driving around the city looking for spaces – this is bad for them and bad for business.
“We want them to get out of their cars and enjoy what the city has to offer. We accept that coin only machines can be inconvenient and are looking at introducing cashless parking machines in some areas of the city.”
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