Action urged after parking fines soar by 10 per cent in five years

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DRIVERS in Yorkshire have avoided the brunt of an increase in the amount paid to England’s councils in parking charges and fines, which has seen a rise of almost 10 per cent in the past five years, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Ranked together by English regions, councils in East Yorkshire took the least from motorists for parking with a total of £2,740,388, councils in West Yorkshire took the second least at £5,724,286 and local authorities across South Yorkshire pulled in the fourth lowest total, behind Shropshire, Hereford and Worcestershire, with £9,920,494. Councils in London took the most, at £323,196,372.

The latest figures, obtained by the FSB using the Freedom of Information Act, are from 2011 and the total for North Yorkshire councils was unavailable.

Across the country as a whole, £884m was banked by councils from parking, permit and penalty notice charges, up from £810m in 2008.

The FSB has launched its findings ahead of Small Business Advice Week and is calling on local authorities to work closely with the business community and residents to establish more effective parking policies.

The FSB wants to see business groups and central and local government join forces to discuss creative solutions to the parking issues faced by regions, with heavy parking charges used only as a last resort.

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We know there is no such thing as free parking, but local authorities need a voice in the local community about how the cost and availability of parking affects their business. We know that budgets are tight, but we don’t want to see parking being used as a revenue grab.

“FSB experience shows that when parking charges are introduced many shops suffer. The recent idea to allow parking on double yellow lines was met with fierce criticism in some areas. We believe this shows the need for a wide debate on the issue and how localised it is.

“We want to see organisations and local authorities come together to discuss parking provision to make it work, not just for business, but for customers too.”

Simon Cliffe, of Small Business Advice Week, added: “A number of the local businesses we’re in contact with cite the rising cost of parking as a key reason for a drop in footfall.”

The call for fairer parking policies came as Calderdale Council announced that parking charges could be introduced in a number of Halifax car parks.

The council wants to remove free parking on Saturdays as part of a raft of changes to parking across the town.

The Saturday arrangement was introduced in December 2008 to encourage town centre shopping at Christmas but a council review has found most of the users of the free car parks are commuters and employees.

The council says in order to increase spaces available to shoppers and visitors it wants to introduce a £1 maximum charge on Saturdays in car parks at Cross Hills, Victoria Street, High Street and Mulcture Hall Road.

Free parking will still be offered in the car parks on Saturdays in the six weeks leading up to Christmas.

It is also planned that a maximum daily charge of £3 will be introduced Monday to Friday in the following car parks: High Street, North Bridge, Cross Hills, King Street, Hanover Street, Victoria Street, Union Street and Prescott Street.

An evening parking charge in Halifax is also proposed with charging hours being extended from 8am until 6pm, Monday to Saturday, to 8pm. Pay and display spaces are being proposed for Skircoat Road.