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Join our Park the Charges campaign
9:40am Wednesday 25th April 2012 in park the charges
Today The Argus launches our Park The Charges campaign. We are calling on Brighton and Hove City Council to review its recently introduced parking charge increases, to consult with residents and businesses and then decide what changes need to be made for the good of the city. Business editor John Keenan, Tim Ridgway and Ellie Thomson report.
Yesterday we revealed that parking prices in the city could be looked at again after companies said they were damaging trade.
Council leader Bill Randall said that the Green administration would take another look at the parking tariffs on the seafront and would monitor parking patterns as the tourist season gets underway.
The Argus ‘Park The Charges’ campaign is calling on the council to carry out a city-wide review of the parking charges, which came into force on April 1, to consult with residents and businesses and then decide which parking tariffs across the city need to be changed.
It has been backed by the city’s major business groups.
To join them, please leave a comment below. Please include your connection to the city and where you live.
You can also leave a message on our Facebook page or tweet using the hashtag #parkthecharges.
Supporters so farBusinesses
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Gavin Stewart, chairman of the Brighton Business Improvement District, said he will meet with the Tourism Alliance and the North Laine Traders Association this week to discuss how to tackle the issue.
He said: “Local businesses are being pushed from all sides. A worse than expected Christmas trading period has been difficult to cope with and the increased business rates and bills have been difficult for many to stomach.
“The Government has recently undertaken a ‘Review of the High Street’ with retail guru Mary Portas. This work has highlighted a national need to make city centres more attractive to customers, with parking coming high on the list of issues that need to get sorted - and fast.
“If Brighton is to truly sell itself as a tourist destination, then it needs to be welcoming to visitors.
“If they can’t come, they can’t spend time and money here.
“We need, more now than ever before, to be supporting our local businesses, encouraging repeat visits and making Brighton and Hove the city that people choose over our rivals because it’s easy to get to and a joy to be in once they are here.”
The Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce has also thrown its weight behind the campaign.
Sarah Springford, director, said: “The Chamber is keen to help and support consultation with businesses about how to resolve the parking issues in Brighton and Hove and we appreciate that there is a wider problem to resolve.
“The Chamber would like to be part of finding a successful long term solution.”
Phil Graves, director at estate agent Graves Jenkins in Marlborough Place, Brighton, said the council must consult businesses and residents over crucial decisions about parking charges.
He said: “We are a city that needs to attract visitors and high parking charges do the opposite.”
Nick Pardoe, general manager at the Rendezvous Casino at Brighton Marina, said the cost of parking had an impact on businesses right across the area.
He said: “Even though it doesn't directly affect us in the Marina, I strongly believe that what is good for Brighton's economy is good for us – and doubling the parking charges is clearly not good.”
Politicians have also backed the calls for a review of the charges.
Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby said: “The council can be under no doubt as to the strength of the opposition to these changes, and I believe that is what has forced this apparent u-turn.”
Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas said: "Many local business people and visitors to the city have been in touch with me to express their concerns over the new parking charges, and I think we do need to ensure that much-needed action to reduce air pollution and road congestion is done in a way which does not harm local jobs, businesses and tourism.
“The council has many tough decisions to make as a result of the huge spending cuts handed down by central government, but I welcome the fact that they are looking again at the seafront charges."
The Labour and Co-operative Group on Brighton and Hove City Council has also backed The Argus campaign.
The spokesman for employment and economic regeneration, Councillor Warren Morgan, said: “The Green’s parking fee increases are causing a crisis for local businesses and tourism.
“Whilst we back efforts to reduce city centre congestion and pollution, there needs to be a balance with the needs of shop owners, shoppers and holidaymakers.
“We are urging them to look again at their parking policy and to adopt our five point plan to help residents, visitors and businesses.”
Councillor Gill Mitchell, leader of the Labour and Cooperative group, said: "The Greens really need to get a grip of parking in the city.
“We know they are ideologically opposed to park and ride, but when ideology meets the reality of damaging the city’s economy, tough decisions have to be made."
Geoffrey Theobald, leader of the Conservative Group on the city council, said: “I fully support this excellent Argus campaign.
“The Greens have instigated the largest parking charge increases that I can ever remember.
“We’ve argued from the outset that these charges are excessive and will damage local businesses by encouraging residents and visitors to go elsewhere to spend their money.
“We did attempt at the Budget council meeting to reduce a particularly high increase in a major city centre car park but neither Green nor Labour Groups would support us.”
A spokesman for the Brighton and Hove Green party said: “The Green Party’s aim in Brighton and Hove is to improve people’s lives.
“For years, nothing has been done about the appalling traffic congestion and pollution that blight our city every summer, and finally our Green councillors are starting to tackle this by changing traffic patterns and spreading the inner city parking burden.
“It’s clearly not the Green council’s intention to endanger jobs, tourism or the economy, or to make people’s lives harder, and we wholly support our councillors in their work to make the city a better place to live, work and visit.”
The council’s cabinet member for transport and public realm, Ian Davey, insisted that parking charges are good value.
He said: “We are listening to the concerns of traders and working hard to balance the parking needs of businesses, visitors and residents.
“More cashless parking ticket machines are being brought into the Madeira Drive maximum tariff parking zone. Ten machines can take cards at the moment and new signs have been added to help people find them. This week, work will begin to ensure that every other machine will take cards “Initial figures show that more people are using the cheaper zones for all day parking along Madeira Drive. Brighton and Hove City Council will continue to monitor the situation.
“People are still coming to the seafront and parking their cars in the cheaper zone.
“Our aim is to achieve a less congested city centre with lower levels of congestion and pollution. We have kept prices low in car parks at the edge of the city centre to try and distribute traffic and trade more evenly throughout the city.
“For example, Trafalgar Street and Regency which are £12.50 for 24 hours and London Road which is £15 for 24 hours. We’re also investing £4 million in refurbishing and improving access to the Regency and Trafalgar Street car parks. These are not the actions of an administration which is anti-car.”
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