Parking charges are ‘having an impact’

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OPPOSITION is growing to council plans for charging motorists as much as 70p an hour to park at Shibden, Halifax.

Daily fees of between £1 and £2 were introduced at the visitor centre in April and according to critics have already caused a reduction in visitor numbers.

A survey has also shown that extending the charges could put the Mereside Cafe and conference centre in jeopardy.

Christine Booth, a member of the Friends of Shibden Estate support group, said she would be trying to persuade Calderdale Council Cabinet to limit parking charges to no more than 30p an hour, when it meets on Monday.

“Anything more than that and every aspect of the park will suffer because people will visit less often or stop coming altogether,” she said.

“The council’s own survey of drivers shows most were not in favour of parking charges.”

But it is the a survey of 258 visitors to the cafe which gives the greatest cause for concern.

Seven out of 10 said they wanted to pay no more than 50p to park - half the current mid week charge.

According to cafe proprietor Lawrence Dobson: “Evidence from our takings since May suggests users are voting with their feet.

“If this trend continues and people continue to reduce their visits and spending, the viability of the business model of the Mereside Centre will be in jeopardy.”

The cabinet has been recommended to charge motorists from 30p to 70p an hour, between 10am and 5pm.

The council’s community services spokeswoman, Pauline Nash, said “Free parking is no longer an option if we are to ensure that vital front line services are to be maintained.”