THERE has been a furious reaction in Lewes to news that a rival town has been given a significant advantage in car parking charges.
The President of Lewes Chamber of Commerce said he was “appalled” that Newhaven was being given a free parking concession in the run-up to Christmas.
David Quinn said it was “blatantly unfair” that two towns under the administration of Lewes District Council should operate different systems.
A proposal to provide free parking during the festive season in Newhaven Multi Storey was approved by the council’s Cabinet last week.
From yesterday (Thursday) until January 5 drivers will be able to claim up to two hours of free parking every day.
The news, which could help boost business in the struggling coastal town, was welcomed by Newhaven Chamber of Commerce.
But the response from its Lewes counterpart could not have been in greater contrast.
Mr Quinn said: “I’m appalled. Retailers in Lewes and Newhaven should be on a level footing, but Lewes seems to get the short end of the stick every time.
“It’s blatantly unfair. We are trying to compete for business with neighbouring towns where free parking is an attraction and incentive for shoppers.
“Traders in Lewes need all the help they can get especially in this crucial business period.”
Mr Quinn continued: “Surely Lewes District and East Sussex County Council can come up with a parking plan between them that can attract people to our town.
“A concession to one town in the District but not another is unjust.”
The Mayor of Lewes, Cllr John Stockdale, has been an outspoken critic of the county town’s parking regime.
He said: “I’m very pleased for Newhaven, but shouldn’t the council give the same ‘Christmas present’ to the traders and people of Lewes and the other towns in the District?”
Customers in Newhaven will be able to select their own two-hour period, but if they stay more than two hours they would only pay for the extra time above the free period.
The scheme only applies to the Newhaven Multi Storey car park. It is estimated it will cost the district council between £3,500 and £5,000 in lost revenue.