Voucher parking scheme for Calderdale shoppers

COUNCILLORS have thrown their weight behind a scheme that will allow motorists to reclaim parking fees from local shopkeepers.

The details have still to be worked out and it will need business support.

But it should go someway to counteract a 10p an hour hike in parking charges in 2014, which was agreed at Calderdale Council’s budget meeting this week.

The voucher scheme was among a raft of measures in the ill-fated 2009 parking review but was given new legs by being included in the Conservative budget proposals.

Group leader Stephen Baines said it would be a valuable incentive that would encourage people to shop locally.

Motorists would tear a voucher off their pay and display parking ticket and get a discount on their purchases, so that their first hour of parking would be free.

“It has been successful elsewhere in the UK and the only cost to the council would be to adjust the ticket machines,” said Coun Baines (Northowram and Shelf).

Councillor Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) the council’s economy and environment spokesman, described it as “a cracking idea”.

“I have no doubt that when the new parking review proposals come forward, the voucher scheme will be up for consideration.”

The review will also look at introducing administrative charges for issuing residents’ parking permits and possibly extending charges to more streets and car parks.

These and other changes should raise an extra £1 million for the council by 2014.

Councillor Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) said everyone would be a winner from the parking voucher scheme.

“Some businesses in Brighouse have already said they are willing to buy into the scheme because it will help to attract more shoppers.

“But they will be very upset if there is any suggestion that there should be on street parking charges,” he said.

Councillor Martin Peel (Con, Sowerby Bridge) said there would be support for voucher parking throughout Calderdale.

The meeting was told by community services spokeswoman Coun Pauline Nash (Lib-Dem, Skircoat) planned cuts to the festive lighting budget could be avoided by using £89,000 from the council’s economic fighting fund.