Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater writes to Kirklees Council chief executive to object to 'counter-productive' new parking charge plans

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater has lodged her objection to proposed new parking fees in her constituency.
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Ms Leadbeater has written to Kirklees Council restating her long-standing opposition to car park charges.

Last month, members of Kirklees Council’s cabinet gave the green light to plans which include increasing the price of all-day parking from £4 to £6.50 and bringing in fees at car parks that are currently free to use.

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The council has not increased its prices for 14 years and says this move is necessary due to its financial position and the need to make a £47m saving before the financial year is out.

Batley and Spen MP Kim LeadbeaterBatley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater
Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater

But the plans have proved unpopular with both councillors and members of the public.

In a letter to council chief executive, Steve Mawson, and finance cabinet member Graham Turner, Ms Leadbeater said: “I fully understand the serious financial pressures that Kirklees Council, like many authorities across the country of all political persuasions, is currently facing after thirteen years of central government cuts.

"I am hugely sympathetic to this situation, but I strongly believe that the harmful impact of introducing parking charges in our towns and villages will greatly outweigh any immediate financial benefit.”

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She added: “My concern is that new charges would be counter-productive.

"If free parking ends in Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike, Birstall and Batley it will hit local people as well as shops and businesses hard.

"There is likely to be a decline in visitor numbers which small firms and shops, already facing increased business rates, energy and wage bills, cannot afford.

“I deplore the attempt by Conservative councillors to turn this into a party political issue; particularly as most of the challenges being faced by councils, local businesses and communities are a result of government policies.

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“As someone who feels very strongly about health and physical activity, I do believe we should encourage people to walk and cycle wherever possible, and I also want to see improvements to public transport so fewer people feel they need to drive.

"However, this shouldn’t be at the cost of those who have no choice but to use their cars and I believe it would be a mistake to add to people’s financial burdens in the middle of a cost of living crisis.”