Calderdale business leaders call for support rather than changes to car parking charges
Businesses leaders have been critical to changes of car parking charging hours which were rolled out on Monday.
The council’s cabinet agreed in 2020 to extend existing charging hours in some areas of Calderdale.
The rollout of some of these changes started on Monday.
The proposals have come under criticism from business leaders.
Tracy Harvey, managing director of Harveys of Halifax, said: "The last 20 months have been unprecedented for us all and the most worrying time in our business’s history.
"We are, very slowly, starting to come out the other side now, thanks to the incredible loyalty of our customers.
"Although confidence is gradually increasing, it will be a long road back to where we were, pre-pandemic, and footfall is still at very low levels. Anything that upsets the balance at the moment could be very damaging.
"I use the town centre very regularly in the evening and I feel that extending car parking charges up to 8pm can only have a detrimental effect on what are mostly small, independent businesses in the town centre.
"Bars and restaurants have been hit the hardest during the pandemic and need all the help they can get to bounce back – adding parking charges into the evening will not help them do this. I absolutely appreciate the pressure to ‘balance the books’ but I do feel that this has the potential to be very damaging to those already really struggling."
Alison Bartram, chair of Hebden Bridge Business Forum, said: “We haven't had much feedback to be honest and don't know if that's because our businesses aren't aware as there does appear to be a lack of communication from Calderdale Council to various groups, including the Hebden Royd Business Forum, or if there is a lack of understanding on any implications - particularly perhaps to hospitality.
"From those people we have spoke with they are rather concerned that Calderdale Council hasn't appeared to consult with them; particularly residents living on the east side of the town. Charging after 6pm will predominantly affect locals from being able to park when returning home from work since there are no residents’ permits for the people living in the town centre.
"We do also feel this extension to 8pm will perhaps stop some people wanting to go out and support the local cinema, restaurants and pubs.
"The festive season my be affected too if retailers are thinking of opening later in December as it may put tourists off coming into Hebden Bridge to shop on a late afternoon/evening to incorporate a meal out with friends/family as well.
"We do appreciate that councils need to raise more monies but do wish they would look at the big picture and evaluate the impact this could have on both the local community and local businesses.
"Mytholmroyd train station car park is only ever half full (at best) so there could be an argument for trialing a Park and Ride service that Calderdale could charge people to use; bringing income in whilst alleviating the usual parking issues in Hebden Bridge."
The council says the changes to parking hours are now being made following a peer review of parking charges by local government colleagues from throughout the country, and argues the fees continue to remain low compared to neighbouring boroughs.
The existing charging hours in Halifax (short stay), Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge and West Vale will be extended until 8pm.
These changes are being introduced to encourage a good turnover of spaces in recognition of the high demand for spaces generated by the night-time leisure economy the Council said.
Charges will also be extended to Sundays and bank holidays in Halifax town centre short stay car parks and on-street spaces, and bank holidays will become chargeable in Hebden Bridge.
Advisory notices will be placed on ticket machines to inform users of the changes ahead of their introduction.
Any money that the Council raises from parking charges is used to support investment in local highways initiatives and improvements. Parking will remain free for Blue Badge holders.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion, said: “Setting parking charges at the right level is so important. It requires a balance, with charges being low enough to encourage visitors and shoppers, but not too low that spaces become full too quickly for too long making it difficult to find a space.
“Congested parking spaces can also result in vehicles circulating around or idling whilst waiting for a space. This not only causes an increase in air pollution but can potentially lead to shoppers/visitors going elsewhere.
“We’ve carefully considered these changes in parking restrictions based on local usage and in line with recommendations from the external review of the highways service. The changes will also support the Council to achieve wider strategic objectives, such as combatting climate change and improving air quality.”
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