Kirklees Council’s car parking charges plan will be ‘crushing blow to local businesses’ as Cleckheaton and Birstall communities come together ahead of consultation deadline

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Kirklees Council has insisted that their car parking charges proposals will “improve the vitality and viability of towns and villages across the district” as the communities of Cleckheaton and Birstall pull together ahead of the deadline for objections.

Earlier this month (April), the council published details on proposed charges to be introduced in the borough’s 57 free car parks - including in Cleckheaton, Birstall, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe Batley and Heckmondwike - and launched a 21-day consultation period.

The final day for members of the public to submit their views is Thursday, May 2.

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The plans, which include drivers having to pay 80p for a one-hour stay and £6.50 for a full day’s parking, unsurprisingly, have proved unpopular across the borough.

Around 100 people turned up at Birstall Community Centre for a meeting to discuss the proposed car parking charges.Around 100 people turned up at Birstall Community Centre for a meeting to discuss the proposed car parking charges.
Around 100 people turned up at Birstall Community Centre for a meeting to discuss the proposed car parking charges.

In Cleckheaton, a community meeting was held last Thursday, April 25, while around 60 people took part in a protest march around the town centre on Saturday, April 27.

Bronte Angela Rouse, who organised the meeting and the march, said:

“The march went brilliantly. It was a very wholesome feeling that everybody was there for the same reason and supporting each other. We had people waving at us and beeping at us and giving us the thumbs up. I got the feeling that people did support it and it was a great feeling. I am very proud of every person who came.

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“I feel like the message was conveyed very well and it brought a lot of attention to it. Business owners came out to show their support too.

Remy, Amelia and Lydia at the protest march in Cleckheaton on Saturday.Remy, Amelia and Lydia at the protest march in Cleckheaton on Saturday.
Remy, Amelia and Lydia at the protest march in Cleckheaton on Saturday.

“It is not over yet. All we can do now is put our objections in, spread the word, and tell anyone who will listen.”

Cleckheaton ward councillor, John Lawson (Lib Dems), who took part in the march, told the Reporter Series:

“On the back of the town hall being mothballed this would be a crushing blow to local businesses. It seems to be poorly thought out, with very little thought of the consequences.

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“Occasional visitors have said they would stop coming if they have to pay to park, while staff will be really badly affected having to spend over £1,000 on parking. That is a really big impact.

Bradford Road car park in Cleckheaton. Earlier this month (April), the council published details on proposed charges to be introduced in the borough’s 57 free car parks - including in Cleckheaton, Birstall, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe Batley and Heckmondwike - and launched a 21-day consultation period.Bradford Road car park in Cleckheaton. Earlier this month (April), the council published details on proposed charges to be introduced in the borough’s 57 free car parks - including in Cleckheaton, Birstall, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe Batley and Heckmondwike - and launched a 21-day consultation period.
Bradford Road car park in Cleckheaton. Earlier this month (April), the council published details on proposed charges to be introduced in the borough’s 57 free car parks - including in Cleckheaton, Birstall, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe Batley and Heckmondwike - and launched a 21-day consultation period.

“But there is a spirit in Cleckheaton that says if you can’t do it for us then don’t get in the way of us doing it ourselves. It is something I have always admired.

“Cleckheaton is a very special place and we care deeply about our town.”

Similarly, a community meeting was held in Birstall last Thursday, organised by the village’s Chamber of Trade, which was attended by local councillors and the MP for Batley and Spen, Kim Leadbeater.

Donna Pailing, chair of Birstall Chamber of Trade, said:

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“It was really positive that people took part and raised queries with the local councillors and Kim. There was a lot of upset and anger that it was going ahead, from both residents and business owners.

“There wasn’t one person who even thought it was slightly a good idea. Everyone was just so angry and upset.”

Stephen Walker, chair of voluntary group Friends of Birstall Library, who has written a letter to the council objecting to the proposals, believes there will be an impact on events held at the library and the nearby community centre, where Thursday’s meeting was hosted.

He said: “The meeting was really good and well attended. Everybody was listened to.

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“I asked people to think about the library and community centre because of the impact of preventing people from attending events, which would go against Kirklees’ objectives about challenging loneliness and inclusivity.”

David Shepherd, Strategic Director for Growth and Regeneration at Kirklees Council, said:

“Kirklees Council have recently reviewed our parking charges and tariffs, resulting in the recently advertised uplift of existing parking charges in town centres and the proposals to introduce new charges and restrictions, such as a maximum stay, in many of the currently free council-operated public car parks.

“We appreciate that car parking provision is an important factor in providing the local transport needs for retail, commuter, and visitor purposes. The introduction of charges and other restrictions will assist in the balance of supply and demand, encourage the turnover of parking spaces across the district, and improve the vitality and viability of towns and villages across the district.

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“The level of proposed charges is consistent with other parking charges levied across the region and other council car parking spaces across Kirklees.”

Responses to the consultation can be sent by email to: [email protected] quoting reference DEV/D119-122/Car Park

The closing date for objections is Thursday, May 2.