Desperate traders in Brighouse town centre have urged Calderdale Council to go back to the drawing board after their businesses have been hit by controversial on-street parking fees.
The council reintroduced one hour’s free parking in December and extended it into January in an attempt to boost post-Christmas trade.
From February there will be a 20p charge for up to one hour.
Traders have warned that on-street parking charges need to be scrapped before it’s too late for struggling shops, with one business owner reporting a £10,000 drop in sales since fees were introduced last summer.
Lesley Adams, owner of Simply Flowers and a Brighouse Bid representative, described the charges as a “barrier”.
She said: “It started back in July.
“Machines came in and we had half an hour free that had a devastating impact on trade.
“It made more of a barrier to stop people coming into town. We started a conversation with Calderdale Council.
“We’ve got people who pay and those who won’t give Calderdale Council any money.”
The council has said it will monitor the impact of the charges, and Lesley is glad it is listening to concerns.
Jill Williams, from Marshall & Marshall, said on-street charges are “short-sighted”.
She said: “In Elland, they introduced parking charges and a lot of small businesses went under.
“Now they’ve reintroduced free parking there but it’s too late for all those businesses.
“We’re a small independent business - we’re up against big high streets and the internet.
“People go straight to the White Rose where there is free parking. Scrap it, go back to as it was before.”
Jill said the free hour is failing to boost visitors with parking spaces outside the shop left empty even now.
“Coming up to Christmas, free spaces? That was unheard of. We did feel it and we did notice.”
'Our main sales are down £10,000.'
John Buxton, owner of Ryecorn Wholefoods, said customers don’t have time to stop and shop anymore.
He said: “Towns like this depend on browsers and the other shops tell me the same.
“Our main sales, which is food, over the four months from when it started, are down £10,000.
“Towns that have got high parking charges are failing. Towns without parking charges are prospering.”
Czerwik manager John Murphy said some of his customers are forced to stop their purchase half way through to rush back to their car in time.
“Free parking is a big pull for people to come into the town. If the parking charges were good for business you’d see them in the supermarkets,” he said.
Longer times are better for business.
Hairdresser Jason Taylor from Taylor & Co said: "I don’t mind paying for parking but I think it has to be for longer times. 20p an hour, I don’t think is going to affect anyone. 30 minutes free is a killer for most businesses."
'We will listen to concerns'
Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, Coun Barry Collins, said: “A full hour of free on-street parking in Brighouse was extended to the end of January to support businesses through the notoriously difficult post-Christmas period.
“The charges have been introduced to ensure there is a good turnover of spaces in the town. We will of course continue to listen to local traders and carefully monitor the effect of the revised charges.”