Please listen over parking charge plans and save town centre

Will evening parking charges deter people from using Halifax town centre's excellent leisure facilities?
Will evening parking charges deter people from using Halifax town centre's excellent leisure facilities?

I would like to start by saying well done Calderdale Council for finally hammering home the final nail in the coffin of what was once the vibrant and exciting centre of Calderdale known as Halifax Town! “Why am I saying this?” you may ask. Well the plain and simple answer is the proposed ridiculous changes to parking charge times in the town centre.

I will refer to the letter by David and Marion Reynolds published in the Courier on September 20 which made reference to the town centre parking charges being extended from 6pm to 8pm and the impending detrimental effects it will have on all the entertainment facilities within the town. Yes I totally agree that parking charges are needed during the normal working day to prevent office workers and such like from monopolising town centre parking but as most office based businesses, banks and the big building societies are all done and finished by 5:30pm then I can only deduce, as David and Marion did, any extended parking charge times are purely and simply to pick the pockets of those people willing to come into the town centre and spend their hard earned cash in the restaurants, bars, cinema, bowling ally, theatre and the council / private run sports facilities all of which will be paying rates, VAT, and employee taxes into the struggling British economy. 
How long have we residents of Calderdale waited for a entertainment facility like the one we have in the Broad Street Plaza? 10, 15 years? And now we have it the first thing Calderdale Council do is decide to Tax us by implementing ridiculous parking charges in the Plaza and then when that doesn’t raise enough money decide to punish us and introduce unfair parking restrictions around the rest of town.
 Lets not be fooled here. Once these changes are implemented it won’t be long before they will increase the fees for parking on top. Paying to park when you’re then paying to use the facilities on offer - where is the sense in that? Why not travel the short distance to Birstall or Huddersfield where ample free parking is available and Birstall has all the restaurants (Frankie & Benny’s, TGI Fridays, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, etc.) and a great cinema? Surely the Plaza could give free parking by giving tokens out or redeeming the tickets in the actual restaurants and cinema? This would alleviate the need for everyone to park on the side streets around it. All other towns and cities (Bradford for one) do it so why not ours?
I’m not just a resident of Calderdale, a person who was born here, grew up here, live, loved and built a life here but I am also a small business owner who runs a health and fitness facility in a mill on the outskirts of the town centre and I’m sure like many other small business owners within Halifax I’m worried and concerned about the new proposals by Calderdale Council. Many of my customers have already said that if the evening parking charges are introduced they will not be able to afford this on top of their training fees. Fees that I have held at the same price for the last four years due to the economic climate we are in. 
In short no customers = no gym! 
But let’s think about this a bit more. There are many businesses like mine - sports clubs, dance schools, actor’s workshops, youth clubs and musical groups to name but a few - that provide a service from run-down premises on the edge of town, often on a shoe string, not making vast amounts of money with the main clientele being children and teenagers. 
If these places don’t exist then what happens? 
Kids become bored, they have no outlet for their creativity, they start hanging around the streets and become dis-engaged with society. Then sooner or later the crime and deprivation levels in our edge of town suburbs rise.
On a recent visit to Oldham, a place I frequent regularly, I was really surprised and pleased to see that the parking charges had all been re-evaluated. It used to cost around 40p per every 1/2 hr which in its self was pretty reasonable then, but when I went to put my money in the machine on my last visit I was given the information that the first 1/2hr was now FREE and then it went up to 20p for 0 - 40mins and after that the increments were about 50p for every hour!
So basically you can nip into town, drop something off, pay a bill, run into the bank without having to pay for parking, brilliant!
Why can’t our council do this for us? Surely they see what’s happening in our town? If they don’t they must be blind. Do they not listen to the shoppers and retail owners who stand up and voice their concerns? Or are they deaf as well? 
In conclusion I, like David and Marion, urge the policy makers and councillors of Calderdale to reconsider their parking proposals for the overall health of our town centre and the welfare of its residents as right now I believe Halifax is on its death bed and the Broad Street Plaza is the last remaining drip keeping it alive.
If people do decide they’ve had enough of being used as a cash cow through ridiculous parking restrictions and take their business to a place where parking is provided free then there is only one future. Mass unemployment for our kids and a great big pound shop where we currently have a cinema and numerous restaurants! 
Calderdale Council please, please listen!

Ricky Richardson

Calder Thai Boxing

Berwick Street