London Road Parking Charges – Trade vs Cleaner Air

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by Mary Stevens

Early this year parking charges on London Road were reduced following a campaign by traders who said high tariffs were losing them business.  The charges were raised during 2012 by the city council as part of a parking review. Traders lobbied hard for a reduction, and drivers are now paying £2 for 1 hour, £4 for 2 hours  and £6 for one hour for parking.

In defence of the price hike, council representatives had said failing to address air pollution might mean the city council facing fines from the European Commission. Air pollution in the area has exceeded limits set to ensure good health for many years.

London Road, the main A23 out of the city, is well served by buses and has a high footfall. There are a handful of on street metered parking spaces, with more parallel to London Road on Elder Place. To find out how parking charges are affecting traders now, we asked a selection what they thought.

Open Market fruit and vegetable trader Pat Mears said the charges are “disgusting”. He told us that on Saturdays the stall is really busy at 8 am as drivers do their shopping before charges kick in at 9. One of his customers agreed.

Manager of Age Concern Charity Shop Debbie Thatcher told us donations had reduced by a third compared to the previous year. She also said sales had been slightly better so far this year. Other established businesses we talked to said as London Road is not a premium shopping area, drivers cannot be expected to pay city centre prices to park, and one paid for their customers’ parking. A volunteer in the Scope Charity shop told us footfall had definitely dropped when parking prices were hiked, and there had been a small improvement in trade so far this year.

London Road, adjoining Oxford Street and Viaduct Terrace, all have levels of air pollution that exceed limits set for good health. Air pollution from transport is now widely dubbed an ‘invisible killer’, causing an estimated 29,000 early deaths in the UK each year.

From April 8th central Brighton and Hove will have a 20mph speed limit, which is part of the city council’s long term strategy to reduce accidents, encourage more walking and cycling and reduce congestion and traffic.

Initiatives are underway to revitalise trade and improve the environment of London Road. Next week council representatives meet with residents, traders and City College – all partners in a Portas pilot scheme to boost trade.

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