Seafront businesses are demanding an emergency meeting with council transport chiefs to discuss the “unmitigated disaster” of increased parking charges.

Twenty businesses have come together for the first time and are calling on Brighton and Hove City Council to ditch the increase and reinstate parking charges from last year.

Businesses in Madeira Drive, including the Sea Life Centre, the Brighton Wheel and Waves Café, say the decision by the council to increase parking charges in April has severely damaged trade.

The changes saw tariffs in some parts of the city more than double overnight.

Following protests from traders, the council announced it would introduce a new eight-hour tariff costing £15 in the seafront high zone, including Madeira Drive, while keeping the all-day charge of £20.

Madeira Drive businesses say that even the weekend’s warm weather had failed to boost visitor numbers.

Alan Randall, director of Yellowave beach sports venue, said action needed to be taken now to stop parking charges ruining traders’ summer.

He said: “For traders on the seafront, the summer is the year so we can’t wait weeks for a change because we will have lost a year.

“The problem we have along Madeira Drive, especially towards the eastern end, is that it’s not very accessible with no bus service and 80 or 90 steps down from Marine Parade so people need to use their cars to get here.

“The evidence we have is that we are seeing more empty parking spaces in Madeira Drive and more of our customers saying they won’t be coming again because they can’t afford to pay £3.50 for an hour’s parking.”

Annette Kettle, the co-owner of Waves café in Madeira Drive, said: “We have had warm weather in the past week and there is still no one parking down here because of the increased parking charges.

“Whether that will change if there is a heat wave I don’t know but I seriously doubt it.”

A lower tariff for the eastern end of Madeira Drive was introduced in April to help businesses but Mr Randall said construction vans and coaches were filling up those spaces to avoid higher prices closer to the city centre.

Ian Davey, the chairman of the council’s transport committee, said he had only just received the letter from the traders and was looking at their request for a meeting.

He said there was no evidence that parking charges were putting people off visiting the city, citing visitor increases at the Royal Pavilion and Museums, but added that spring temperatures around 8C lower than last year was also playing a role in visitor numbers.

He said: “We’ve listened.

“These adjustments will help us realise our transport vision for a city that will be cleaner and healthier and make it easier to get about for everyone.”

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