Two Labour councillors have called for a review of short term parking charges in Southwick and Lancing in a bid to help stimulate the high street.
The motion, which will be referred to the Joint Strategic Committee, was put forward by councillor Lee Cowen and councillor David Balfe.
Mr Cowen said that with several shops closing in Lancing village centre, the council needed to find a way of encouraging people to use the high street.
“Numerous people have mentioned to me that parking is a deterrent,” he said.
“It does nothing for the high street if you can do your shopping at ASDA and you have free parking. How do you compete with that?”
A two-hour stay in Lancing costs £1.20 at South Street and Littlecroft car parks, and £1.50 at North Farm Road from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. There is a flat rate of £1 on Sundays.
Mr Cowen pointed to the success of a scheme which, for the last two winters, has seen the council introduce free parking on Saturdays in Southwick Square car park in the lead up to Christmas.
The Southwick Traders Association has previously said the scheme ‘definitely made a difference’ and called for it to continue.
A two-hour stay at the car park in Southwick Square usually costs £1.50 from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, with a flat rate of £1 on Sundays.
Mr Cowen said the council should look at ‘different charging models for different areas’.
“For the areas that are struggling, they could introduce different charges,” he said. “There’s no reason why they couldn’t do that.”
While the pressures facing town centres are numerous, he said: “It’s just one of the things that could possibly stimulate Lancing high street,”
Mr Balfe said: “Local high streets do more than just provide shopping, they are also invaluable social hubs for our community.
“If they disappear we will lose something precious that we might presently be taking for granted.
“High street traders across the country are facing very challenging economic conditions at the moment, along with increasing competition from the internet and retail parks.
“One of the few things we councils can do to help is to make parking for local shoppers easier and cheaper.”
He acknowledged that councils were facing challenging financial situations due to cutbacks in funding from the Government.
“However, we think that some more can be done to help traders in Southwick and Lancing,” he said.
“We Labour councillors have asked the Joint Strategic Committee to review the charges and other mechanisms being presently used in these car-parks.”