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Brighton council pledges to act on traders’ concerns
A council has pledged to act on business concerns. Retailers in Brighton and Hove are demanding action on parking fees, rents and business rates, and signage.
The council’s overview and scrutiny committee has heard from concerned traders. The council’s economic development manager, Cheryl Finella, told the committee that shop owners had complained about poor signage at Brighton Station and that shoppers were paying a premium to visit the city through high parking fees.
She said businesses wanted a town centre strategy which involves key stakeholders, such as the council and Sussex police, to look at how to maintain a good mix of shops, including retail and restaurants. Shop owners have also asked the council to exercise more control over the types of businesses that can move into an area to avoid the over- supply of chains or one type of retailer. Gavin Stewart, managing director at the Brighton Business Improvement District, which includes The Lanes, North Laine and Western Road, said the conversation had just begun.
He said: “The BID is very pleased that the city council sees the support of the independent retail sector as key to the local economy.
“We are looking forward to working more closely with council colleagues to move this agenda on and in doing so help to create a thriving environment for visitors and locals alike.
“This is just the start of the conversation. We are holding quarterly meetings with the council.
“The multiples and the independents talk to each other through the BID. The independents can learn from the multiples about forward planning. But the independents have the perspective of business on the ground.” Andrew Nichols, chairman of Hove Business Association, said that it was good to see some progress being made. But he said the issue of signage was crucial in Hove.
He said: “The council might view this as a waste of money, but it isn’t. When we rely on tourism it is crucial. I think a town centre man- ager for Hove would be a great help. It is not reasonable to expect volunteers at the HBA to provide the communication stream between traders and the council.” Councillor Gill Mitchell, leader of the Labour group at the council, said: “We need to better engage the retail sector and listen properly to their concerns. In a difficult economic climate it is vital that our local retailers are properly sup- ported. # “We were privileged as a panel to hear from a number of retailers and experts who spoke passionately about their experiences, and came forward not only with their challenges but an array of solutions and ideas.”
A council spokesperson said: “This scrutiny panel was established to progress issues raised from the ‘Streets Ahead’ event in 2011.
“The panel consisted of councillors Gill Mitchell (chair), Phelim MacCafferty and Carol Theobald and their key aim was to look at ways of supporting the city’s independent retailers.”
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