Newhaven Chamber of Commerce is backing Norman Baker’s calls for free parking in the town centre car parks to boost local businesses.
The chamber said it was important to take action to save the town centre before it is too late - otherwise there will be no shopping centre at all.
But Lewes District Council said previous trials of free parking in Newhaven had produced mixed results, while reducing the cost of parking had not led to a significant increase in the number of people using the car parks.
Mr Baker recently helped to officially open I Like a Sweetie in Newhaven High Street and would like to see more support for businesses opening in the town centre.
Newhaven Chamber of Commerce said: “The Chamber is delighted to see a new business open in the town centre but Norman is right - urgent action is now needed by Lewes District Council to encourage more businesses to open in the high street, support the existing businesses and to encourage more shoppers to come into Newhaven town centre.
“We appreciate that car parking provides an important income stream for the district council but unless action is taken soon there won’t be a town centre in Newhaven and the car parks will become redundant.”
The chamber added: “We know that Lewes District Council is committed to helping Newhaven with various regeneration projects but the town centre, unfortunately, is an area that continues to need further attention and assistance.
“We would ask LDC to reconsider their decision on car parking in an effort to help reverse the decline of Newhaven town centre before it is too late.”
Mr Baker said: “I appreciate car parking provides an important income stream for Lewes District Council, but we have now reached the position where drastic action is needed to help the town centre in Newhaven.
“Free parking would bring more people into the high street and in turn would encourage more businesses to open and stay in the town.”
But a district council spokesperson said: “Lewes District Council has supported Newhaven town centre in a number of ways including trialling free parking for special events and at Christmas.
“These trials have provided mixed results.
“The council has reduced the cost of parking in July 2013, however, there has been no significant increase in the number of people using the car parks, which indicates that this is not a main driver for the economic success of the town.”
Lewes District Council pointed to an investment of over £50m being channelled into Newhaven which includes the new fire station to be completed in 2015; Newhaven Growth Quarter, with work due to start in March 2015 and the University Technical College which will open in September 2015.
It said both projects would create jobs and bring visitors thto the town centre.
The council added the new transport interchange at Newhaven Station would improve the accessibility of the town railway station and make it easier to access the town centre through public transport.