Traders held a protest about parking and loading restrictions in a busy Brighton shopping street today.
About 20 traders formed a human chain to load and unload at M&B Meats in London Road, Brighton, halting traffic for about five minutes.
Graham Maides, who runs M&B Meats, said that London Road had been in decline for the past 30 years.
He said: “I’ve seen the street deteriorate in that amount of time but in the last six months to a year it’s really been devastating. Trade’s dropped 20 to 25 per cent.”
He said that he had started doing many more deliveries to customers since parking charges doubled in April to try to make up for lost trade in his butchery.
Mr Maides, whose shop stocks zebra, camel and buffalo burgers, said that Brighton and Hove City Council had since placed restrictions on loading and unloading outside his shop.
He added: “I can’t even load and unload outside the shop now so I’ve been prevented from doing that side of my trade now.”
The protest was intended to draw attention to the problem as traders called for the restrictions to be lifted, parking charges to be cut and free parking in the run-up to Christmas.
David Funnell, of South Coast Farms, supplies eggs to M&B Meats. He said that the council had told him to park by the Royal Pavilion to deliver to the London Road butcher’s shop.
He said that it would involve a 20-minute walk and that he had been told to leave his van doors open so that traffic wardens would be able to tell that he was delivering.
Roy Brown, who runs Bardsley’s fish and chip shop in Baker Street, said: “If someone wants to stop for a bag of chips, they have to pay £3.50. It used to £1 for an hour.
“Quite a few customers are dropping someone off and then driving round the block until the order’s ready. That’s not helping pollution.
“People are going elsewhere. They can’t afford to pay these charges. It’s affecting trade badly – between a quarter and a third.”
Mr Brown is also joint chairman of the London Road Area Traders’ Association.
He said that customers from outlying parts of Brighton and Hove were driving to places with cheaper parking such as Worthing, Eastbourne, Crawley and Burgess Hill.
He criticised the Greens for the rise and said that he had been a supporter of the party since the 1990s when Pete West became the first Green councillor in the area.
But he wouldn’t be voting for them again – a view he said that was widely reflected among his customers.
He added: “Don’t create more traffic hold ups while people drive round and round. It’ll just lead to businesses closing. Do something Green.”
He said that instead of pursuing policies to deal with air pollution and traffic congestion, instead they were concreting over The Level.
Ann Townsend owns a shop in London Road and is joint chairman of the traders’ association.
She said that traffic had been squeezed ever since the council introduced the one-way system in 1997.
She said that it hadn’t encouraged enough people to switch to public transport. Instead it had just created congestion.
She said that 1,800 people drove into Brighton down the A23 every morning: “These people are making the local economy work but the council is making their life uncomfortable.
“Have they done proper research into the effects of their policies?”
Takings on the east side of the road were down by a quarter and by even more for shops nearer The Level.
She said: “At least one trader has been unable to pay his rent for the past few months and it’s a council property.
“They don’t have the faintest idea about the economy. They need to take a really intelligent look.”
She pointed out that parking for two hours cost £1.50 before April and now cost £6 whereas in Norton Road, where councillors can park by Hove Town Hall, it was £1.50 for two hours.
Councillor Ian Davey, chairman of the council’s Transport Committee, said: “The London Road area has some of the worst congestion in the city, some of the worst air quality in the city and it’s also got road safety problems as well.
“A lot of residents complain about too much traffic in their streets.”
He said that the price in the 500-space London Road car park was £1 for the first hour on weekdays.
“Please use the car park. There are spaces in it and the prices are much lower.”
He said that there were just six vacant premises in London Road, adding: “That compares very favourably with many other areas of the country where vacancy rates are much higher.
“There’s lots to be positive about in London Road. This time next year the new Open Market will be there.
“There’s a new community developing in the New England Quarter and that will provide a new customer base for London Road.
“We will be really happy to speak to the traders and listen to what their issues are.
“We can look at the balance between the needs of residents and the needs of traders.”
But he said that calls for free parking for Christmas shoppers wouldn’t help anyone.
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