Column: Talking Politics with Coun Steven Leigh - The proposed parking charges will threaten jobs & prosperity
This proposed imposition will increase parking charges for residents across the Borough, with for example Halifax, Brighouse, and Hebden Bridge all facing increases up to 100 per cent. The council is clearly building on its momentum since the implementation of its disastrous policy in 2021 to extend parking charges from 6pm to 8pm and to include Sundays. These new increases will further reduce footfall and residents' spending power, bringing adverse economic effects and potential job losses.
The Labour leadership not only chooses to ignore the damaging effects that these parking policies will have on our town centres and the people of Calderdale but ignores public opinion as research undertaken by Brighouse BID shows that 92 per cent of the businesses oppose the increases in on-street charges and 100 per cent in opposition to the off-street charges.
Consequently, as the principal opposition group on the council, we immediately called-in the proposed policy into the Council's Place Scrutiny Panel. At this meeting, we discussed and scrutinised the Review and emphasised that the increases to charges demonstrated total disregard for people struggling to get by in Calderdale. The call-in was successful and the Parking Review has been redirected back to Cabinet for further debate, and until then the increases and changes are now on hold. Our second response has been to rally the support of people in Calderdale through a petition against the increases, which can be found on the Calderdale Conservatives website.
In the call-in meeting, we also referred to the Conservative vision for the Borough. The council is already utilising the Conservative Government's funding of millions to revitalise town centres, with Halifax receiving £11.7m, Brighouse £19m, Todmorden £17.5 and Elland £6.3m. That’s over £50m of Government funding to make our town centres attractive - but the Labour Council through this Review will be actively discouraging motorists from visiting our towns and highstreets. This Parking Review makes no sense whatsoever.