Parking prices across Brighton and Hove are to go up in the spring, it was confirmed today (Friday 17 February).
Brighton and Hove City Council’s cabinet member for transport signed off the revised set of charges, some of which are lower but most of which are higher.
Councillor Ian Davey made the decision at a meeting at Hove Town Hall where he heard a passionate last-ditch plea to rethink rises in traders and business permit prices.
The plea was made by Hove businessman Elliott Raggio, on behalf of Traders Need Transport, who handed in a 1,250-signature petition.
Councillor Davey also listened to criticisms made by the opposition leaders – Councillor Geoffrey Theobald for the Conservatives and Councillor Gill Mitchell for Labour.
Both criticised the effect that the rises would have on small businesses in particular at a time when business rates and council tax were expected to increase.
They also criticised the higher charges at car parks in the centre of Brighton.
Councillor Mitchell said: “Shoppers will bypass Brighton. Traders are going to be caught every which way.
“You haven’t thought about staging an increase and trying to take people with you rather than coming in with a massive increase and potentially retracting that.
“You’re sitting on a £3 million underspend for the current year.”
Councillor Davey said that the regular queues up and down West Street and along the seafront showed that that too many people were prepared to pay the current level of charges.
He said that a new £1 charge for the first hour at car parks further from the centre of Brighton would encourage people to opt for these car parks, easing congestion.
This would mean cheaper parking for the first hour at car parks in The Lanes, Regency Square and Trafalgar Street, where the first hour currently costs £2.50.
He also said that this could help attract shoppers to places such as London Road and the North Laine.
It had been intended to put the price of traders permits up from £350 to £750 a year but, having listened to objections about the steep rise, the new figure would be £600.
And business permits were planned to rise from £175 to £400 but would now go up to £300 a year instead.
He said that even the most expensive permits would be good value, allowing traders to park for less than £2 a day.
Councillor Davey said that he was also scrapping the restriction on the number of traders permits for which there was a 400-strong waiting list, making life easier for tradesmen.
Mr Raggio said: “We are frustrated at the claims the administration has listened to our campaign and reduced the proposed prices.
“It’s only because the original proposals were so extortionately high that the inflated price could be reduced by the administration in an attempt to look good.
“The administration has failed to look at the basics – the price hike is now over 70 per cent.
“We cannot applaud you for reducing the original price proposal leaving us with an unreasonable and alarmingly high price to pay.
“The waiting list should be scrapped but not to coincide with a 70 per cent increase.
“The current waiting list is worth nearly £150,000 based on the current price.
“Opening the doors and freezing the current rate will ensure added revenue and support to the local economy.
“The council’s judgment is clouded by the greed of the proposed price hike.
“The sole reason for scrapping the waiting list at the same time as a 70 per cent price hike is to simply maximise the revenue of the proposed price, not to help traders.
“The proposal will force businesses to increase their prices and rates.
“This will no doubt strangle businesses and put an unnecessary added burden on to them and households, our residents of Brighton and Hove.
“The Green administration have said they aim to reduce congestion – so does that mean you want to put traders out of business so they no longer use their vans?
“We can’t use any other mode of transport, can we?
“Businesses and households cannot afford the proposed price hike and I hope you take on board our campaign, the collected signatures and scrap these plans with immediate effect.”
Councillor Davey said: “There are too many cars looking for too few spaces and nobody benefits from congestion.
“We would much rather people were out enjoying the city than stuck in traffic.
“We’ve joined up our pricing structure with our transport policy to rebalance our streets, making travel easier, safer and more comfortable for everyone to travel around.
“Two thirds of journeys start and end within Brighton and Hove.
“We hope that people will choose other forms of transport for at least some of their journeys and therefore will not incur parking charges.
“Any surplus made as a result of the increases will be reinvested to give people real choice about how they travel.”
The prices rises are for the 2012-13 financial year which starts at the beginning of April.
The new charges are expected to be in place either at the start of April or between then and Tuesday 1 May at the latest.