Seafront traders jubilant at U-turn on parking charges

Southend seafront traders have welcomed a bonfire of parking charges as Conservatives take over the city council.

The newly installed Tory administration has vowed to throw out plans to introduce charges from 6pm to 9pm in Southend seafront areas.

The charge would have meant motorists paying £8.30 for the full three hours, in bays that were previously free.

More than 100 extra parking spaces will be created, some on the Seaway car park in Lucy Road which was due to be developed into a leisure scheme costing £50 million but has also now been scrapped.

Philip Miller, owner of Adventure Island, said: “Suddenly the seafront has moved up the list of priorities for the council, from last place to perhaps top ten.

“These emergency measures are purely growth-driven. The pernicious charges previously introduced were just stifling trade not just from trippers but more importantly local folks.”

Mr Miller added: “As we know the Seaway development has always been a non-starter. It always helps when you actually have money to do developments

“The Queensway development would have killed trade not just for the seafront but for Southchurch and Sutton road businesses as well. We can breathe again!

“The starting gun has been fired. Let’s get this city rolling!”

Joan Tiney, chairman of Southend Seafront Traders’ Association, agreed. She said: “Overjoyed is not too strong a word. They would have had a very big impact, in particular the 6pm to 9pm parking charge. People don’t mind turning up at 5pm and paying for an hour but to pay for four hours is a different ball game.

“We’re really pleased about Seaway because that wouldn’t have done the seafront any favours whatsoever.”

Paul Thompson, owner of the Pebbles One cafe on the seafront , added: “We’ve got a pro-business administration now that’s going to introduce more parking spaces and immediately reverse the 6pm to 9pm charge which means a big boost to residents and visitors to the town.

“We’re in a cost-of-living crisis and people have got used to being able to come down to the seafront early evening and have a stroll and not have to pay for it.

“I’m not sure there is anyone that won’t welcome this.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter