THIRTY people attended a meeting held to discuss the future of the Goring Road car park.
The informal gathering was held at Goring Cafe on Thursday and was attended by borough councillors Roy Barraclough, Mary Lermitte and Mark Nolan and West Sussex county councillor Steve Wade.
It came almost a week after Worthing Borough Council closed the car park without warning.
Mr Barraclough addressed the group, a combination of business owners, shop workers and residents.
He said: “In August last year, there was a report done with a view to resurfacing the car park because it was breaking up in places.
“As a result of that survey, what was identified was that the drainage was in a very poor condition.
“I am being informed that it was so bad that it could collapse at any time. That is the problem.
“Even if the surface was replaced, it would not address the underlying problem with the drainage.
“It is an unacceptable risk and that is why the council officers have closed the car park. The reason it was closed so quickly was because the report went to the legal department which said the council would be liable if anything happened.”
Jeremy French, owner of Heene Road Vets, organised the meeting. He told the Herald afterwards: “I think that Roy Barraclough has got a hard job to do but that he is going to try to help us, though I think it will be an uphill struggle.
“Until we have actually seen some kind of documentary evidence of what is happening, such as the surveyor’s report, it is very difficult to comment.
“The drainage problem sounds pretty devastating but there was a gentleman at the meeting that said he could see no signs of subsidence at all.
“The next step is to have a proper meeting in a hall somewhere with some council officers.”
Mr French thanked Mr Barraclough for his attendance, adding: “I think the meeting was a bit of a fact-finding mission to see how detrimental this is to businesses and to find out how devastated we all are.
“There were represent- atives from every single shop, even those on the other side of the parade, because they know what a knock-on effect the closure of the car park will have.
“There are also knock-on effects for residents as they cannot get into their own garages because people are parking to come to the shops.
“This is the first week so people will try to get here and maybe find somewhere to park but if they had a long walk back then next time they will probably go somewhere else and we will have lost our trade.
“It is going to be so hard to get that business back and things are hard enough at the moment anyway.
“This is the only car park for the whole of the parade and the frustrating thing is the area has only recently started to become vibrant again.
“We did not know what was wrong with the car park, how much it is going it is going to cost or how long it will be closed for.
“I do not think that anyone has an issue with closing it for safety reasons but we pay high business rates and feel that we have a right to know what is going on.”