AN Eastbourne businessman is urging everyone to sign a petition opposing the new car parking charges in town.

Paying to park in Eastbourne has shot up since the county council brought in new charges.

Ashley Pugh is Managing Director of W Bruford Ltd in the town centre.

He said: “Please please fill this petition form in.

“It is our opportunity to show the County Council how disgusted we are with their complete lack of understanding in regard to the problems the town centre faces.”

The petition can be found at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdnPwaJZ8DTjGCiJpG3Xzk_SmuJZPYY0tsZx8yNluISSFOnKA/viewform

The petition says: “Following lockdown, East Sussex County Council continued their plan to increase parking charges in Eastbourne, despite ongoing lobbying by Your Eastbourne Business Improvement District (BID).

“Your Eastbourne BID represents over 600 businesses within the town centre and we invited Cllr Claire Dowling to meet with the board of directors to hear our concerns and feedback. Unfortunately, this invite was declined.

“During a time when we are being discouraged from using public transport, following a long period when very few businesses were able to continue trading, we believe it is paramount to create an inviting environment, encouraging people to visit the town centre in order to shop locally and have some kind of normality.

“Footfall is down due to the pandemic. To hike up parking charges now could be massively detrimental to businesses and to Eastbourne as a whole. Visitors and town centre staff are driving into work as carsharing and public transport are not recommended.

“During the last 40 years, the traditional shopping experience has undergone some monumental changes, affecting the way we shop. The development of out of town shopping centres and the emergence of online shopping (magnified by the pandemic), has all led to a decrease in footfall within town centres, in turn harming shops on the high street. With this latest shock to our way of life, our local businesses are at risk. Increasing parking charges now is wrong.

“We call on East Sussex County Council to reverse the increase in car parking charges.”

The county council argues ‘Charging at a sufficient level to impact driver behaviour, can bolster the local economy by encouraging a ‘churn’ of visitors and shoppers, rather than spaces being occupied by a single user for a long period of time.