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Make 'waste of space' Hove car park free, Tories say
A campaign has been launched to make better use of a “waste of space” pay-and-display car park.
The Conservative group of Brighton and Hove want to make the council-owned Norton Road car park free to use at weekends to boost business for local traders.
The group argues that the move would increase the number of shoppers visiting local traders and would reduce the threat of graffiti artists and groups of bored youths targeting the multi-storey car park.
Central Hove councillor Andrew Wealls, who is leading the campaign, said he had taken photographs showing that the car park opposite Hove Town Hall is under-used at weekends.
He is also calling for free access to the car park at any time for residents with Zone N parking permits. Charges increased by up to 67% this year.
Coun Wealls launched the campaign with council candidate Adam Love and has begun collecting residents’ signatures for a petition.
He said he hoped the change would make the car park busier and, therefore, less intimidating and may eventually encourage the council to invest money in improving its appearances.
He added: “It seems the biggest waste of space to have the car park empty most of the time at night and at weekends when we have Zone N residents who are struggling to find parking outside their homes.
“It just seems to be a big black hole in the middle of Hove and we need to get better use out of it.
“This change would cost Brighton and Hove City Council little, while benefiting residents, businesses and visitors a great deal.”
Alan Moon, founder of the George Street Traders’ Association, welcomed the move. He said: “I absolutely welcome this move, trade is really rough and any initiative to help trade is welcome.
“High parking costs are putting off shoppers. At one time, George Street had free parking all day and that was when the area was booming.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “Figures for the last financial year show that Norton Road car park is very well patronised, providing essential parking for visitors attending the wide range of social, business, council and local community events and activities held at Hove Centre.
“We are not aware of any particular graffiti problem at Norton Road car park as our cleansing team has not received any complaints or reports that would have lead to removal.”
Residents can add their support online at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/petitions .