Businesses have attacked proposals to bring congestion charging to Sussex.

The Government-commissioned Eddington Report suggested drivers should be charged between 2p and £1.34 a mile to use main roads depending on the day and time.

East Sussex County Council, Sussex Enterprise and Friends of the Earth have agreed that it could work, with investment in public transport, improvements to roads and commitments on the environment.

But businesses across Sussex who deal with congestion every day voiced concerns about the potential impact on the economy, tourism and low-paid essential workers.

Keith Trimble, general manager of Anglo Carbon in Lancing, said he used as much petrol travelling 15 miles around Worthing, Arundel and Chichester in heavy traffic as he did travelling 35 miles on clear roads.

He said the problems were due to a lack of reinvestment of taxes to improve roads. "Around Chichester there are 60,000 new dwellings and 90,000 more cars with no improvements to the roads. It's ridiculous.

"Low-paid workers will not be able to pay additional costs to travel to and from work and they should not be penalised."

Chris Newberry is managing director of Pump Engineering in Littlehampton and the A27 has a daily impact on his business.

He suggested congestion could be reduced if lone drivers were persuaded to car-share or use public transport to travel to work - and if parents let their children take a school bus or walk to school.

He said: "Road pricing could do considerable harm to business. We have to travel around the country to visit customers. How much would a 500-mile journey cost?"

Chris Smith, from Smith and Ouzman in Eastbourne, said roads must be improved before anyone is charged to use them. He added: "We need to encourage people to use trains."

Kevin Scott, of Lewes Chamber of Commerce, said the A27 between Lewes and Eastbourne should be upgraded and there should be a strategy to improve the A21 and A22.