Brighton and Hove politicians welcome signs of rethink on seafront parking charges

Posted On 25 Apr 2012 at 5:14 am

Indications that the Greens may rethink parking charges on Brighton seafront were welcomed yesterday by Labour and Conservative politicians.

The suggestion followed a survey by the Tourism Alliance which asked ten questions, including whether trade had suffered and whether businesses had been consulted about the rise in charges.

Members of the Tourism Alliance put their concerns to Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, at a meeting at the Brighthelm Centre on Monday (24 April).

The Brighton and Hove City Council cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, was also present.

Simon Kirby, the Tory MP for Brighton Kemptown, said that he welcomed signs that the council was considering reversing the rise in parking charges after criticism from businesses and residents.

Mr Kirby said: “I am pleased by the news that the Greens will look at these changes again.

“Although it is just talk at this stage, I am cautiously optimistic that their eyes have been opened to the terrible impact this parking hike is having.

“I have received hundreds of emails through my Brighton Parking Madness website from concerned constituents and business owners across the city.

“The council can be under no doubt as to the strength of the opposition to these changes and I believe that is what has forced this apparent u-turn.”

Mr Kirby raised the subject in the House of Commons on Thursday (19 April) when he asked the Leader of the House, fellow Conservative MP Sir George Young: “Should you wish to visit Brighton and park your car on the seafront, Mr Speaker, the Green-run council would charge you £20 to do so.

“Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on excessive parking charges?”

Sir George cited the recent Portas Review – by retail expert Mary Portas – which opposed higher parking charges and suggested that Mr Kirby purse his campaign in Brighton.

Councillor Warren Morgan, Labour’s spokesman on employment and economic regeneration on the council, urged the Greens to adopt a five-point plan drawn up his party.

Before the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership meeting yesterday (Tuesday 24 April) he said: “The Greens’ parking fee increases are causing a crisis for local businesses and tourism.

“While we back efforts to reduce city centre congestion and pollution, there needs to be a balance with the needs of shop owners, shoppers and holidaymakers.

“We are urging them to look again at their parking policy and to adopt our five-point plan to help residents, visitors and businesses.”

Labour called on the Greens to

  • Consider setting up a park and ride system for the city
  • Hold a review of parking charges in six months to see how hard businesses and tourism are being hit by rises in parking charges
  • Replace coin-only parking meters with ones that take debit cards and payment by phone and which give change
  • Outline the economic case for a successful park and ride scheme
  • Introduce special offers and parking charge holidays for off-peak times, key events and shopping periods

Councillor Gill Mitchell, leader of the opposition Labour group on the council, said: “The Greens really need to get a grip of parking in the city.

“We know they are ideologically opposed to park and ride but when ideology meets the reality of damaging the city’s economy, tough decisions have to be made.”

 

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