Southend Council has voted to maintain free parking on the seafront after 6pm, following anger from local residents in response to plans for a price hike across the town.
Coastal businesses such as Adventure Island opposed the scheme to impose paid parking over a 24-hour period, stating the impact it would have on visitation.
“All our budget proposals need to be taken in the context of the severe financial pressures we face and the fact that we have to set a balanced budget that protects frontline services. The last 12 months have applied unprecedented pressures on council budgets across the country.”
The proposals had included increasing seafront parking charges to £2.50 an hour, forcing visitors to potentially pay £24 for 24-hour seaside parking.
“It will be devastating,” said former chairman of the seafront traders’ association Paul Thompson in the wake of the announcement. “We’re going to get an initial rush of people when the lockdown finishes.”
“They’re going to arrive, get hit with the horrendous £24 charge and they’re not going to come back.”
However, though the council has dropped charges after 6pm, fees will still increase from £12 to £18 for between seven and ten hours parking.