‘You’re going to kill the village off’ - Birstall businesses fume at Kirklees Council’s proposed car parking charges
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Cabinet members are to discuss proposals to increase parking tariffs by inflation, retrospectively back to 2009, with a council spokesperson saying the changes will “support budget savings while setting parking charges that are appropriate and consistent within the region”.
However, business owners and their loyal customers have united to take a petition to today’s meeting and will be asking the council for a rethink to their plans.
Donna Pailing, owner of The Cobbles cafe in Market Place, said:
“Our main concern is Birstall but we appreciate it’s going to be a big Kirklees thing. It will just kill our businesses because nobody is going to pull over and pay a pound to call in a shop.
“They would even be charged to go into the Tesco car park. There would be no free parking at all which is a really scary situation for our little village.”
Asked what the reaction has been like among shoppers, Donna said:
“People have said we will just bypass it and go down to Batley and park for free in their Tesco or the shop at Gomersal or in Birkenshaw. People have different options where they can park on a main road and not have to pay 50p or a pound to call in at a local shop.
“We have just set up the Saturday market as well and we’re still trying to gain momentum with that. People will bypass it. They won’t stop and think, ‘I’ll get my cheese and my meat from the market’, they will just go to the supermarket where it is free to park. People are a bit funny about paying for parking.”
But Donna has warned it is not just consumers who will suffer, as she explained:
“For staff and for people who work in the village, I think it's going to be between £6.50 and £7.50 for a full day’s parking. That’s potentially an extra £25 a week off somebody’s wage just to go to work. It’s not Leeds City Centre!”
Asked what her message would be to Kirklees Council, Donna responded:
“They need to leave smaller villages - where there are small businesses that are all family-run - alone. You’re going to kill us off. You’re going to kill the village off.
“We’ve been through enough over the last few years with COVID and trying to rebuild. We also fight with Junction 27 up the road. That’s all free parking. We fight with them enough as it is.
“We’re just going to be pushing more people towards bigger businesses. Leave us alone.”
Councillor Yusra Hussain, cabinet member for culture and Greener Kirklees, said last week ahead of today’s meeting:
“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.”
To view the petition to ‘Save Our Shops’ in Birstall, visit: https://www.change.org/p/sos-save-our-shops-and-stop-the-introduction-of-parking-charges-in-birstall