Birstall business owners still ‘hope to make a difference’ after handing over petition in opposition of Kirklees Council’s proposed car parking charges
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Ahead of Tuesday’s discussions, business owners had said the village would be “killed off” if plans to introduce parking charges for all council-operated off-street car parks and on-street parking bays across the district were approved at the meeting.
And despite petitions, with over a thousand signatures, being handed over to the council from concerned businesses and councillors, cabinet members gave the green light to plans which include rising all-day parking from £4 to £6.50 and fees brought in at car parks that are currently free, although there will be a period of consultation.
Donna Pailing, owner of The Cobbles cafe in Market Place, said:
“We were cut down to two minutes, so that was the first hurdle - getting what we wanted to say down. We handed in our petition of over 1,400 signatures and that was just Birstall alone. We said we were worried about the costs, that people just won’t come and that it will kill the village off.
“If we can get the 1,400 people who signed the petition to fill in the consultation then surely that cannot be ignored - that has got to be listened to. Surely that can make a difference? Hopefully we can make a difference.
“But we also asked if the consultation would be different for a small town or village like Birstall to a big town like Huddersfield because our needs are different to Huddersfield’s needs.
“From what I gather the consultation will be the same for everybody which is also a worry.”
Asked if she felt as concerned as she did before she went to the meeting, Donna replied:
“Yes. I kind of feel like it is a done deal. They kept making a point that the council hadn’t put prices up for parking in the areas they already charge for six, possibly seven years, so they need to go up. That’s their fault they haven’t put them up.
“If they had put them up in line with inflation, like 10p a year, then they wouldn’t be in a situation now where they are trying to claw money back from parking in places like Birstall, who are now being penalised for it.
“I just feel like we’re not going to have any choice in the matter.”
Councillor Yusra Hussain, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, said:
“The council is continuing to review fees and charges across all services. This is to enable us to produce a balanced budget in February. Parking charges have remained static for the last 14 years but due to the current financial climate, we are unable to hold price increases 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 will be launching a statutory consultation in the form of a Traffic Regulatory Order (TRO) with a 21-day feedback period. We will then listen to the feedback and make a decision that is right for each area at a local level. The TRO will be out for consultation in the coming weeks.
“Free, timed on-street spaces across the borough will not be affected by the proposals, so there will still be free parking available for those wishing to visit our towns and villages.”