Free at last! Parking plan will boost trade

PARKING PLAN Coun Paul Kane in front of the two bays suggested for the scheme. (D541G328)
PARKING PLAN Coun Paul Kane in front of the two bays suggested for the scheme. (D541G328)

Pleas for free parking in Dewsbury could be answered at last as councillors strive to revitalise the town.

Dewsbury’s Regeneration Board has asked for a review of parking and ideas for a free parking scheme.

And council officials have already earmarked two potential sites.

Chamber of Trade president Trish Makepeace said: “Any free parking we can get is a Godsend. It’s what this town is crying out for.”

The proposals were revealed during Tuesday’s meeting of Dewsbury Area Committee.

Coun Paul Kane, chairman of the regeneration board, said: “When we talk to retailers it’s all about footfall and bringing people into town, even if it’s only for a short period. It’s about trying to generate more income for the town.” It has been suggested that drivers could park for free in two parking bays at the top of Northgate for up to 30 minutes, with no return in a hour.

Kirklees Council principal engineer Joe Walker said: “This is very much in draft form. It’s to give people the opportunity to nip into some shops – just brief visits – and then they can be out and on their way again.” Mrs Makepeace said: “Half an hour may not be quite long enough, but let’s be grateful for small mercies.” She said she would have liked to see more spaces included, but hoped the scheme might be expanded if it proved successful. Coun Kane (Lab, Dews East) said the suggested scheme would complement a multi-million pound revamp planned for what has been referred to as the northern quarter. “We want to bring some of the vacant spaces back into use,” he said. “It’s about regenerating the top end of the town.” Meanwhile, five additional pay and display spaces could be added near the town hall to help meet demand. And a loading bay in Westgate could be used as a taxi rank for up to six cars between 8pm and 6am.

Elsewhere, refurbished benches in Market Place have been repaired as part of ongoing work to improve the appearance of the town centre.

Coun Kane added: “We’re trying to do things about stuff where we have control. We’re trying to make the town more physically attractive to potential retailers.”