Inside the Council with Coun Scott Benton

What a fantastic weekend that was!
What a fantastic weekend that was!

What a fantastic weekend that was! The Brighouse 1940s Weekend once again lived up to expectations with the town Centre packed with people enjoying everything that the festival had to offer.

It really was great to see so many people come to Brighouse once again and the 1940s Weekend really does put our town on the map. The Brighouse Business Initiative (BBI) do an absolutely tremendous job in putting together the festival and the huge commitment that it takes the committee members to organise the weekend deserves recognition.

On behalf of all of the residents I would like to thank the BBI for the superb job that they do, not only in organising the different markets and festivals that we have, but in working to improve the environment of the town centre all year round.

The success of our town centre is in no small part down to the efforts of the BBI and it is a pleasure to work alongside them to promote and improve our great town. Of course, if it was left to Calderdale Council to promote the regeneration of our town centre, the outcome would be very different!

During the 1940s Weekend, the Brighouse, Rastrick, and Hipperholme Councillors joined our MP, Craig Whittaker, to run the Pimms Stall which raises money which the BBI use to support projects in Brighouse.

We spoke to hundreds of people over both days and, in addition to the Local Development Plan, the main topic of conversation was of course the introduction of on-street parking charges in the town centre. 99% of the people who we spoke to thought that the introduction of the charges would damage trade in Brighouse and many were questioning how the Council could be so misguided in seeking to impose these new charges.

I couldn’t agree more! Traders, residents, and all of your Conservative Local Councillors rigorously opposed the idea of on-street parking charges when these were proposed by the Labour-run Council. I handed in a petition signed by over 2500 residents against the charges and yet the Council persisted in introducing them despite the scale of the opposition from residents and traders.

The business case for the charges does not stack up and it will undoubtedly deter people from visiting the town centre. It is not the cost (at 20p for 30 mins) that is necessarily the problem, but the inconvenience of having to get a ticket from the meter, put this in the car, and then go and complete the shopping which will deter people – especially when parking up at a supermarket is so much easier. Of course, now that the principle of on-street parking charges has been established, how long will it be before the charges are increased to 50p or £1?

The introduction of the new parking charges by the Labour-run Council sends out completely the wrong message at a time when high streets across the country are struggling. The Council should be supporting Brighouse and the BBI in trying to attract people here and to keep people from going elsewhere, but once again we see Calderdale Council undermining the success of Brighouse with an extremely poorly judged decision.

As Councillors we will continue to work alongside all of the traders and the BBI to mitigate the impact of the charges and to take our town forward. For once, it would be nice if the current Council administration worked with, rather than against us.