Business owners have warned their counterparts in a neighbouring town against adopting a pay-to-park scheme.

Lewes businessmen have told Eastbourne firms to abandon the scheme, predicting it will lead to the same "anarchy" they have experienced, with machines vandalised and a reduction in trade.

At a meeting in Eastbourne Town Hall, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), with members from Brighton and Hove, Wealden, Lewes and Hastings, said they would fight to ensure Eastbourne got a civil parking scheme suitable for the town.

Eastbourne Borough Council is in talks with East Sussex County Council to design a parking scheme to be brought in next October.

Arthur Mapletoft, chairman of the FSB Eastbourne branch, warned that the wrong parking system could break a town.

He said: "The FSB believes it has a duty to help businesses voice their concerns and, in so doing, shape the initial scheme for Eastbourne's civil parking.

"We say yes to fairness, consistency, guidance and good signage, flexibility and self-funding without taxing - but no to a punitive scheme with big fines and difficult appeals and inflexible schemes run by private companies for profit."