SOUTHEND’S “parking pantomime” was highlighted in a Channel 5 series as businessmen and councillors called for action.

A lack of car parking spaces across the town, and along the seafront, was criticised as well as the move to pay by phone parking, rather than cash.

Adventure Island owner Philip Miller branded Southend the “armpit of the east” while appearing on “Britain’s Parking Hell”, adding: “Southend is in decline, forget the Government, forget Brexit, it is about parking and that is what does more damage to us than anything the Government could throw at us.”

Seafront trader Paul Thompson also appeared, highlighting the constant battle of a lack of spaces on the seafront.

He said: “Regeneration of the area is great but it needs adequate parking. We are cutting spaces and we are adding to the demand and its going to be a disaster.”

Following the show, councillor Brian Ayling urged the council to provide a long-term solution.

He said: “There are great concerns over just which way our council is heading particularly with respect to our glorious seafront. For two years we have been waiting for a parking and tourism strategy that has not been forthcoming.

“I think all major High Street businesses are now querying if we need more shops, a cinema and a hotel on the Seaway site. The Channel 5 Parking Hell programme showed the chaos that Southend experiences.

“The council is currently considering what type of Southend do the residents want in 2050 but the important question is ‘What do we need today?’

“A parking and tourism strategy is urgently needed.”