SHOPKEEPERS in central St Leonards are angry over proposals to bring in residents’ only parking in the area.
Traders fear the scheme put forward by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) will adversely affect their business, with visitors choosing to shop elsewhere.
Scores of people have signed petitions in protest.
Lucy Bell, proprietor of the Lucy Bell Gallery in Norman Road, said: “There are a lot of independent shopkeepers who have built up their trade over the years to make St Leonards a vibrant, artistic area.
“If parking is taken away we will not get the visitors coming to the area so in a way all the hard work involved in regeneration will have been wasted.
“Most of the shopkeepers are terribly worried over this.”
She added more than 50 people had signed one petition at her gallery.
The scheme, if brought in, will affect streets like East Ascent, Norman Road and Stanhope Place.
Robert Amstad, owner of Hastings Antiques in Norman Road, who has been in the area for 30 years, said: “Parking in St Leonards currently works well for both residents and shopkeepers alike.
“Changes have been tried before but have never worked and always came up against strong opposition from both parties.
“The changes being proposed only seem to be implementing residents’ parking in the more affluent areas, thus increasing tax revenues but neither easing the flow of traffic nor reducing the number of cars in the area.
“This would be of no benefit to an area of small diminishing shop keepers who employ people in this fragile regeneration area which has only just recently started to show signs of a recovery.
“It would also take up a large area and not allow people to use the beach. As this will limit parking to non-residents it will rob St Leonards of a crucial source of income on which it relies during the summer months.”
David Weeks, the county council’s team manager for parking, said: “These proposals are part of an annual review of parking and traffic restrictions in Hastings.
“The proposals in this part of St Leonards have been prompted by requests from residents who are finding it difficult to park near their homes due to non-residents parking there for long periods.
“We have to balance the needs of residents with the needs of local businesses, and under the proposals customers and visitors would still be able to park for free for up to two hours, while stopping all-day parking by non-permit holders would increase turnover of free parking spaces.
“These are only proposals at this stage and we would encourage as many people as possible to share their opinions with us, which will be taken into account before a final decision is made.”