Shibden parking fees decision put off – again

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FOR a second time, councillors have failed to reach agreement over the introduction of parking charges at Shibden.

And they have been warned that without the extra £83,000 a year charges could generate, park maintenance might have to be scaled back.

When Calderdale Council Cabinet couldn’t make up its mind, members were warned that the boating lake might have to be drained.

Communities director Robin Tuddenham told the communities panel: “If you think parking charges is a difficult decision you haven’t seen anything yet – we will look back at this and think they were the good times.

“The savings are already in the park budget and the only alternative to raising income through parking charges is to reduce the cost of these services - I will have to look at immediate action,” he said.

Parking charges of £1 on weekdays and £2 at weekends were introduced in April.

The scrutiny panel was asked to vote on charges of either 30p, 50p or 70p an hour but unanimously agreed that they did not have enough information to make a recommendation.

Businesses at the park, visitors and nearby residents have argued against hourly charges.

Only 284 visitors answered a survey and 87 of those thought a 50p charge was “reasonable” but 84 people said that was “too high”.

Lawrence Dobson, who runs Coffee Culture and park user Eric Priestley said during seven days in November, only 319 motorists paid to park, compared to the 812 the council had predicted.

Mr Dobson said since charges were put in place in April the park had become deserted.

“Since the park was renovated, every summer and even during April, the park used to have cars queuing to come in. That has not happened since the introduction of the new parking scheme.”

He said Shibden Park had appeared to be recession proof, but it had taken a dive since charges were implemented.

The recommendation for 50p charges to be put in was based on a “tiny sample” said Mr Dobson.

Councillor Ian Cooper (Con, Todmorden) said he understood the bigger financial picture but as a businessman, he could not support the recommendations without further information.

It is now be up to the cabinet to make a final decision.