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Argus won't be gagged in stand on Brighton and Hove parking charges
Buy this photo » Empty spaces on a weekday lunchtime in Madeira Drive, Brighton
Business owners have criticised the Green Party for an attack on The Argus over parking charges.
Firms branded the posting on the official blog of the Brighton and Hove Green Party – which accused this newspaper of ‘running down’ the city – as “a slap in the face for traders”.
One business person said: “The Greens have got a cheek to say The Argus is running down businesses. It is their parking prices that are causing the problems.”
The posting on the Green Light blog referred to our Park The Charges campaign which we launched in the wake of hikes in parking tariffs in Brighton and Hove and numerous calls from traders.
We are calling on Green-led Brighton and Hove City Council to review the increases, to consult with residents and businesses and then decide what changes need to be made for the good of the city.
The blog, with the headline ‘Parking packed in Brighton’, said that Madeira Drive was busy during Saturday afternoon and featured pictures of cars parked along the stretch.
The Greens have got a cheek to say The Argus is running down businesses. It is their parking prices that are causing the problemsElly Trimingham, manager of Yellowave in Madeira Drive
The blog said: “So we call on The Argus, please, to stop its negative campaigning: stop trying to run down our city and its hard-working businesses.
“Instead why not work with the Greens, the council and the tourist bodies to promote the great things Brighton and Hove offers.
“Meanwhile, please, when it comes to Park The Charges, it’s time to copy Madeira Drive last weekend and Pack it in.”
Council leader Jason Kitcat stood by the blog yesterday (May 23), saying that he felt the parking discussion had become polarised in recent weeks.
He said he agreed the debate could be “more constructive on all sides, including the media, politicians and others”.
But traders said the attack on The Argus was an attack on businesses.
Claire Ottewell, chairwoman of the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, said: “We applaud The Argus for its initiative in highlighting the parking charges.
“The newspaper is giving voice to traders’ concerns. The blog from the Green Party attacking The Argus is a slap in the face for traders.”
Elly Trimingham, manager of Yellowave in Madeira Drive, said the parking bays have never been full during the current hot spell.
She said: “The Greens have got a cheek to say The Argus is running down businesses.
"It is their parking prices that are causing the problems.
“I have been told by customers with children that they will not come down to the area any more because they simply cannot afford to park here.”
Elliott Raggio, boss at maintenance company On Tap, said it was almost a joke for the Green Party to attack The Argus.
He said: “They need to eat their words. It is the Greens who will not listen. "They have failed to take on board the concerns of businesses.
"We are still angry with the council over the parking hikes and we will not go away.”
Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown, said the council should pay heed to the campaign.
He said: “The Argus should not drop its campaign on parking charges.
"Local residents and businesses are very concerned that the Greens have got this wrong, want the council to listen to some common sense and reverse these outrageous increases.”
Andrew Burnyeat, chairman of the Brighton Business Improvement District, said the campaign must continue.
He said: “It is only right that the council is made aware of the effect of their policies on businesses.
"For the Green Party, of all people, to attempt to suppress the information is disappointing.”
Rachael Hughes, owner of Green Mop in Coleridge Street, Hove, said: “I support green initiatives but with the best will in the world I cannot get on a bus with 36 loo rolls and a Henry Hoover. This strategy does not seem joined up.
“The campaign is not just about parking by the sea but also about trader and business permits which are too expensive.”
Andrew Nichols, chairman of the Hove Business Association, said: “This is about more than parking in Madeira Drive which is only 300 spaces.
"It’s about the effect on businesses right across the city.”
Councillor Kitcat said: “I have some sympathy for the view that some of the speculation and comment (around parking) has been damaging to the city, whatever one thinks of the new charging system, and I think we all need to work better together.
“What’s vital now is to get the information out to visitors about the best places to park and to let the current system bed in properly.”
The Argus Comment
If the comments by the Green Party blog were not so serious they would be laughable.
Let’s be clear. The Argus did not initiate this. What we did was listen to the concerns of local traders.
They told us they were facing some of the most difficult trading conditions they had seen.
They told us about the impact that these new parking charges were having on them and they did not feel that their concerns were being heard.
It was for this reason that we launched our Park The Charges campaign, calling on the council to review the new parking charges across the city with immediate effect.
We totally refute the claim that we have been ‘trying to run down our city and its hard-working businesses’. In fact, the opposite is true. We have supported the traders and given them the platform to raise their concerns.
We did not pretend that our pictures in last Friday’s paper were all the evidence that was needed. They were just a snapshot.
We certainly did not manipulate them to support our campaign.
We take no pleasure in seeing Madeira Drive parking spaces empty. We want to see everywhere full. But traders fear that will not happen with new parking charges. The traders say they have already seen an impact on their businesses.
What The Argus has done is to air those concerns.
We have spoken to many traders who understand what we have done and are angry at the Greens’ attack on us as they felt it was an attack on them.
It is for that reason that today, as we have done over the past few weeks, we continue to call on the council to review these parking charges and to Park The Charges.
The Green blog can criticise us all it likes but we will not be swayed in our determination to speak up for traders who are already feeling the impact on their businesses and fear that their voice is not being heard.