Shibden parking charges: Councillors under fire as parking fees at popular Halifax park and Gentleman Jack tourist spot rise by 300 per cent

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Unhappy residents have been raising concerns about 300 per cent car parking fee rises at a landmark Calderdale park.

Calderdale Council cabinet members were faced with half a dozen questions from residents dismayed by proposals to increase the amounts charged to park at Shibden Park in Halifax – the historic estate of Anne Lister of TV’s Gentleman Jack fame.

Fees are rising from 50p for an hour’s parking to £1 and from £1.50 for more than five hours to a staggering £5.

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But councillors said there was a reasonably priced alternative, which they admitted needs to be promoted better and is only available to residents with a Calderdale postcode.

People have been dismayed by the huge parking charge rises at Shibden ParkPeople have been dismayed by the huge parking charge rises at Shibden Park
People have been dismayed by the huge parking charge rises at Shibden Park

An annual virtual parking permit is available for Shibden Park at £100, greatly reducing the costs to less than £2 per week for regular attenders, said cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, Coun Jenny Lynn.

She added that the registration number on these permits can be switched to different vehicles.

“It costs £100 per year and allows unlimited visits to the park and the car park there,” she explianed.

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“Even those just visiting once a week, that would equate to £1.92.”

In public questions to cabinet members, Gillian Poole said cabinet had agreed some years ago that parking pricing should meet the needs of all and had concerns around reduced footfall and the new charges not being affordable for people.

Other questions were read out by the council’s head of legal, Ian Hughes, on behalf of the writers.

Jill Burrows wrote the increase would have a huge impact on those who used the park – which had been given to the people of Calderdale - and asked if this impact had been considered.

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Robert Trout criticised the size of the rise and said: “Shibden is a family park and this increase will seriously affect low income families who wish to access this beautiful outside space.”

Gary Newell was also concerned about the effect on young families and them losing a place where people could take their children to the park for a picnic and a relatively cheap day out.

“A family looking to come to the park five days a week over the school holidays are looking at £25 a week just on parking charges – the level of increases proposed is frankly astonishing,” he said.

Operator of children’s amusements at the park, George Hemingway, asked cabinet to reconsider the proposals, and Jon Meynell said: “Places such as Shibden Park should be encouraged to be visited, if only to help people’s mental health – why should they be penalised further with an increase to parking charges?”

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As well as publicising the permit, Coun Lynn said reasons for increasing charges included being competitive with similar nearby venues, such as Hardcastle Crags and Littleborough’s Hollingworth Lake.

She said there was also a need to try and encourage people to leave their cars and travel there by other means, such as public transport, but also to increase revenue from charging those who did come by car.

Councillors heard money raised from parking charges can be used in the upkeep of Calderdale’s highways, with some members saying funding local authorities receive for maintenance falls woefully short, necessitating measures like these.