ANGRY traders have vowed to fight a decision to extend parking charges in Brighouse.
A petition has been set up after a decision was made by Calderdale Council’s Lab/Lib-Dem coalition on Monday evening to introduce car parking charges in Church Lane, Mill Lane and Bank Street in Brighouse town centre as well as the car park in Wakefield Road, Hipperholme.
It is thought the parking shake-up, which along with an increase in charges and various changes in Halifax should raise nearly £1 million. Motorists will be able to formally comment on the details when a series of Traffic Regulation Orders are published over the next six months.
Economy and environment spokesman Coun Barry Collins said: “We cannot afford to let Halifax carry on subsidising parking in the rest of Calderdale. And if we don’t make these changes, we will be forced to reduce other council services like those for the vulnerable, the elderly and children.”
But according to Lesley Adams, chair of Brighouse Business Initiative, the car parks in Halifax generated £542,405 for 2011/12 and Brighouse generated £192,516. “There are 1,300 spaces with parking charges in Halifax which generates £417 per space whereas in Brighouse there is 341 spaces in charged car parks and 125 free ones. So adding them together there is 466 which means there is £413 generated per space in Brighouse.
“It is going to cost £194,000 straight away to input the charges in all of the Calderdale car parks. And to be honest people are not going to pay to park in these car parks when there are ones closer to town. Or they will just find somewhere else to park.”
She had also found that the revenue generated from parking in Halifax was decreasing but yet in other parts of Calderdale it was going up. “They are planning to convert 26 spaces at Hebden Bridge, 30 at Sowerby Bridge, 59 at Todmorden and 69 at Elland. There is 104 in Halifax but we lost 146 spaces in Brighouse,” she said. “Halifax has lost £125,000 through the closure of Broad Street car park.”
Councillor Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) is supporting the traders. “Brighouse is a fantastic place to come and shop. The retailers and businesses within the town have worked incredibly hard over the last few years to promote Brighouse and I am very concerned at the effect that these plans could have upon our vibrant town centre,” he said.
“In these difficult economic times the Council needs to do everything it can to protect our local economy - introducing parking charges within the town centre, combined with their decision to remove funding for our Christmas lights, will undermine the efforts of all of those who have worked so vigorously to promote Brighouse.”
He will be presenting the petition and will continue to strongly oppose any measures that will damage the town centre.
He also feared people would start parking on the side streets and make parking difficult for residents, and patients from the two doctors surgeries in Church Lane would be hit with a parking charge.
Vice-chair of Brighouse Road Safety Committee, Pat Oates, said: “A lot of people come to Brighouse because it is flat and we need these free car parks for some of the shop keepers to park in because they are out of the centre. I think it is ridiculous to even suggest putting parking charges on.”
Chairman of Brighouse Civic Trust, John Culpan, said the group felt it was a very unwise move at the present time. “Extending car parking charges would help to ruin all that is good in Brighouse.”
Councillor Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipp/Light) said he was concerned about proposals to charge motorists to park at Wakefield Road, Hipperholme. “People visiting the fish and chip shop and the takeaway will certainly be put off if they have to pay another 50p to park for a few minutes.
“We don’t want people parking there all day but the shops in that area rely on passing trade and they should be able to park for a short time without being charged.”
He said the traffic management and parking charges had to be very carefully worked out.
Resident Ernest Needham said people use the car park in Hipperholme to go to the shops and leave almost straight away. “Some I admit use the car park to go to Leeds but to start putting machines there will send people to Halifax.”
Councillor Collins said Hipperholme was one of several areas which needed to be carefully catered for. “We will look at the impact as we go along,” he said.