SEAFRONT traders petrified that extra parking charges will kill business have launched a petition pleading for the proposals to be thrown out.

Marc Miller, chairman for the Seaside Partnership and managing director at Adventure Island, has launched a petition urging the council to reconsider plans after raising concerns that charging for parking from 6pm to 9pm will negatively impact businesses.

At the moment, it is free to park on the seafront after 9pm but budget amendments by the Labour, Independent, and Lib Dem parties aim to introduce the fee while reducing parking by 11.14 per cent elsewhere in the city.

Now Mr Miller, on behalf of the Seaside Partnership, has launched a petition against the charges.

The Seaside Partnership is made up of traders across Southend “helping each other and doing what is best for Southend”.

Mr Miller said: “As chairman of the Seaside Partnership, speaking on behalf of the trade association members, we have agreed not to take this latest proposed rise lying down. We have tried talking to the coalition councillors to no avail. They seem dead set on making us the dearest seaside to park in the UK.

“The knock-on effect will be an erosion of trade, not only for the seaside businesses, but also the ones who benefit from the spin-off, including the Pier, which already loses money under council management.

“The cold, hard facts are investment will be cut, jobs will be lost, and the city will slowly finish up a second-rate seaside resort with the associated social problems that go with it.”

Tony Cox, Conservative councillor, and leader of Southend Council, has backed the petition.

In response to the petition, Daniel Cowan, leader of the Labour Group in Southend, said: “I think Mr Miller is more than entitled to put forward a petition on his position.

“I think it is worth nothing that the parking charges and changing to hours are currently out to consultation and that is no decision has been made yet.

“I think, from our point of view, it is based on figures available. We have put forward a proposed budget amendment in good faith based on the best available information.

“We have lowered parking charges for residents across the city and made the pass cheaper.

“I think it is a fair trade. But if the information changes, then our position may change.”