Car parking Kirklees: Yorkshire council planning to remove all free parking from towns and villages including Lindley, Meltham, Slaithwaite, Batley and Cleckheaton
Kirklees Council says it has not upped its parking fees for 14 years but financial pressures and the need to make a £47m saving this financial year see fees and charges being reviewed. A paper to next Tuesday’s (November 14) Cabinet meeting proposes that parking tariffs be raised by the rate of inflation but this would be backdated to 2009.
In Huddersfield town centre this would see the hourly cost of parking rise from 70p to £1.10. Outside of Huddersfield, charges would be put up from 5p per hour to 50p, if the plans get the green light. Across the whole borough, all-day parking would increase by over 60% from £4 to £6.50.
The changes would come in from January 2024 and would also be introduced for car parks that are currently free of charge in areas such as Lindley, Meltham, Slaithwaite, Batley and Cleckheaton – a full list of these can be found below. However, the council says the proposed costs are “appropriate and consistent” with the rest of the region.
Some councillors have expressed fears that the proposed price hikes will drive people away from their local towns and villages. Coun Charles Greaves (Independent, Holme Valley North) said the move could cause “mayhem” when it comes to on-street parking.
Coun Greaves said: “Rather than helping our village centres it will push more people to go elsewhere, and the costs of bringing in charges into some car parks will be greater than the money raised. It will result in much more on-street and pavement parking and where public transport options are limited it will not help reduce car use.
“Independent Councillors have argued for money to fund more off-road parking provision but we’ve been refused, whilst other areas have received millions of pounds of investment. All too often Kirklees looks at the Valleys, the Villages and their residents as an easy option to get more cash, but then offers little in return. Kirklees should play fair and keep the parking charges for the areas that receive millions of pounds of council investment.”
Coun Adam Gregg (Con, Lindley) who has launched a petition to keep parking free in Kirklees’ towns and villages said: “Over recent years the Labour Council has removed hundreds of pay and display spaces in Huddersfield. This has resulted in a significant loss of revenue for the council and has negatively affected town centre businesses.
“Their proposal to recover those losses by charging for parking in areas that are currently free is not a good one. It will further harm local businesses in places like Birstall, Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike, Lindley and Mirfield.
“I hope the Labour cabinet will consider alternative solutions to address this issue because this proposal will only make it harder for local businesses to thrive and for customers to enjoy their services.”
The council previously proposed an increase in parking charges in 2018 but this was met by opposition from Kirklees’ Lib Dems and a petition was launched. This accrued hundreds of signatures and the plans never went ahead.Councillor Yusra Hussain, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, said: “The council is continuing to review fees and charges across all services, this is to enable us to produce a balanced budget in February. Parking charges have remained static for the last 14 years but due to the current financial climate we are unable to hold these current prices any longer.
“Fee increases are not a decision we make lightly and, while we appreciate that an increase in parking charges will not be welcome news, we have initiatives to offset the increase in charges. Frequent car park users can buy discounted Season Tickets for use in council-owned car parks while electric vehicle and ULEV owners can apply for the Green One, which is further discounted.
“Over the last few years, we have also made significant investments to encourage active travel across Kirklees including walking, cycling, and bus routes. By making fewer journeys by car, we can all contribute to reducing our carbon footprint, improve air quality, and help tackle the climate emergency.”
A link to Coun Gregg’s petition can be found here: https://www.adamgregg.uk/campaigns/petition-save-free-parking-kirklees