KEEP our STREETS FREE!

Valerie Caine, owner of Hallmark in Brighouse, with customer Mick Wormald
Valerie Caine, owner of Hallmark in Brighouse, with customer Mick Wormald

BRIGHOUSE shoppers are backing a campaign to stop on-street parking charges being introduced in the town centre.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition urging Calderdale Council to reconsider any proposals to extend parking charges to more streets and car parks in Brighouse.

Shoppers are concerned about the negative impact such proposals would have on the town centre and say it might restrict the number of visits they make.

Lesley Adams, chairman of Brighouse Business Initiative, who organised the petition, said people were opposed to the extension of charges and were keen to sign.

“We have worked very hard to make Brighouse a place that people want to visit. More parking charges would undermine that and drive people away,” she said.

The traders fear that the charges could be introduced as part of Calderdale Council’s parking review which has been in the pipeline since 2009 but which has been given fresh impetus by being included in the Conservative budget proposals.

Lesley said: “Our understanding is that the council wants to make an an extra £600,000 from parking charges in the year ahead. We don’t know exactly how they are going to do it but it seems likely that charges will come in at some point on the three free car parks in the town centre and some of the streets. We are not prepared to hang around and let that happen.”

Lesley will meet councillors to explain the traders’ opposition at the end of March.

Town centre trader David Tankard said the proposals would drive more shoppers into the supermarkets.

“You’re not going to get someone paying to park if all they want to do is pick up a newspaper or a sandwich or call into the bank. At the moment

Brighouse is the sort of town where people park for half-an-hour and do a bit of shopping - and many traders benefit from that.”

Valerie Caine, owner of Hallmark Cards, said: “People come into Brighouse from a wide area to do their shopping because they know they can park easily. It’s going to be very bad for the town if these charges are brought in.”

Councillor Howard Blagborough (Con, Brighouse) said shoppers would be very upset at any suggestion of introducing on-street parking charges.

Councillors have agreed to back a voucher scheme which will allow motorists to reclaim their parking fees from local shop keepers. It is hoped the voucher scheme will go some way to off-setting the introduction of a 10p an hour rise in parking charges in 2014.