Row erupts over plans to introduce parking charges in town centres around Leeds

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Town centre car parking charges have been described as "mean-spirited, expensive and unimaginative", at a meeting of Leeds City Council.

The council's current budget proposals for the forthcoming year include controversial proposals to introduce car parking in areas across the city.

Charges are set to be introduced in the coming year

Charges are set to be introduced in the coming year

And a heated debate broke out about the plans, with the ruling Labour administration claiming the charges were unavoidable thanks to nine years of government austerity.

Coun Tom Leadley (MBI) had put forward a motion, known as a white paper, which read: "The council believes, with trade as bad as it is, that its town and district centres would not stand new car parking charges.

"Therefore the council resolves to oppose new car parking charges within town centres."

Fellow MBI councillor Wyn Kidger said she would pledge to oppose all parking charges in Morley town centre.

Coun Carmel Harrison (Lib Dem) added: "In Rothwell we have a busy and full commercial street.

"Parking charges are a mean-spirited, expensive and unimaginative way of hitting shoppers financially.

"They give little back to the community and need to be managed more closely."

The authority's portfolio-holder for transport and planning Richard Lewis claimed that MBI councillors had suggested town centre parking charges in their budget proposals back in 2016.

He said: "In terms of red herrings and slight of hand, I am way behind Morley. In Morley you have legally-protected free parking with your supermarket, which most places haven't got.

"We are not sitting here thinking 'what can we do to make life difficult?' - following nine years of austerity there are no decisions that are easy.

"Don't come on with this sanctimonius stuff - the government say they're getting bored with austerity - well we are stuck with it.

"We should stop talking in a stupid way - none of us want to impose parking charges but there are very few places we can go."

Deputy leader of the Leeds Conservatives Coun Alan Lamb said: "He has now told us that it is simply a revenue-raising cash-cow from the outer areas.

"On auterity, there's no money left because the last labour government spent it all.

"You are the one who is trying to kill our town centres, and if by some miracle you get reelected next time, you will be coming for Pudsey."

Coun Mark Dobson (Ind), who represents Garforth, one of the areas which would be affected by the new charges, said: "Rarely to we touch on the practicalities of what a proposal will do in practice.

"In Garforth this will be an imposition too far."