A seafront trader has branded council £14m plans for a multi-storey car park as a publicity stunt.

The proposal to build the new multi-storey on Tylers Avenue and York Road car parks could create 719 new spaces, Southend Council has revealed.

The latest plan, which has been under consideration for years, comes after controversial plans for the £50m cinema and leisure scheme on Seaway car park was given a vote of confidence by councillors – despite fears over the loss of car parking spaces.

Ron Woodley, Southend Council’s deputy leader, said the work would be financed by council borrowing and studies show the cost could be paid back within ten years.

But, Paul Thompson, former chairman of Southend Seafront Traders’ Association, said it was “interesting timing” to make the announcement.

He said: “Is this just a publicity stunt from Mr Woodley because he is desperate to get the Seaway plans approved? There has been talk about this for five years but nothing have been done.

"They really need to put up or shut up.” Mr Thompson added that a 719 space car park in the town centre would be “very welcome” but he is sceptical it will ever become a reality.

Mr Woodley, said the financing of the project  could vary depending on the construction method - which could be “modular” – where the car park is constructed with steel and without foundations - or using traditional materials such as bricks and mortar.

It is hoped that additional car parking spaces will alleviate the impact of losing seafront spaces to the Seaway Leisure development - if it goes ahead. Mr Woodley said: “Tylers Avenue and York Road will be one combined car park and if we choose to use modular construction we will be looking at a cost of around £9.5million to £10.5million, while bricks and mortar would be closer £14million.

“We also need to look at the height and whether it would be two or three storeys as this will be the difference of 483 parking spaces and 719 parking spaces.” He placed the blame for delays to the scheme on the Conservative Group, claiming that he had a report written up in February 2016 which said the proposal was possible.

But in the years after the report was written the Conservative-run council had failed to take any action, he said. With the Labour-led coalition now in charge he said promised to see the plans through. The redevelopment of car parks has also become a key consideration in deciding whether the council should allow Seaway car park, off Lucy Road, to be turned into a £50million leisure complex.

Critics of the Seaway plans have urged the council to scrap the plans as it will reduce parking from the current 661 spaces to 555. The concerns were so severe that the development control committee put off making a decision on the plan in January. While the committee hoped the deferral would mean developer Turnstone would rethink the plans and add extra spaces, an appeal was lodged instead. This means it is now down to the Government to make the decision on Seaway, even though councillors gave the plans a vote of confidence on Wednesday night.

But Mr Woodley believes adding hundreds of extra spaces to Tylers Avenue will ease parking concerns. He said he is confident that work on Tylers Avenue will be completed before Seaway Leisure is built, if the Secretary of State grants planning permission.

However, Tory councillor Kevin Buck, slammed the council for having an “anti-car policy” and accused political rivals of trying to force through the £50m Seaway plans “which fails to provide for adequate parking provision”.

He said: “The planning application that was put before the development control committee will in our opinion, cause more problems than it seeks to solve. “There was a scheme that could have met all of the required objectives, including provision for adequate year-round parking, but this was not it.”