A cycling pressure group has given guarded support for controversial new car parking charges in Kirklees but is worried they may cause road safety problems.

Kirklees Council wants to introduce car parking charges in all its car parks which has been met with anger and petitions throughout the area, fearing it would be a death knell for local businesses and also push more people into parking on the roadside.

Under the proposals the charges will generally be 80p per hour in villages including Honley, Meltham, Lindley, Almondbury, Golcar, Kirkburton, Slaithwaite, Marsden, Shepley, Skelmanthorpe, Emley, Marsh, Milnsbridge, Denby Dale, Netherton, New Mill and Scissett.

Part of the council’s justification is that the move supports West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s policy to discourage car use and promote walking, cycling and public transport.

Cycle Kirklees chair Chris Knight said: “We agree with the principle of charges where they incentivise the use of public transport and active travel which we hope will be underlined by proposed changes to Huddersfield town centre, giving better connectivity to walkers and cyclists and faster journeys for bus passengers.”

But he fears it will lead to far more cars parked on roads and pavements, making it potentially more dangerous for cyclists and walkers.

Chris added: “Motorists seeking to avoid parking fees will resort to parking on main roads and residential side streets and on the pavements – an increasing trend in all parts of Kirklees.

“Such a change of behaviour would have a detrimental impact on people walking and cycling and on communities, particularly where effective enforcement measures are not in place.

“This then has a knock-on impact on road safety incidents. We do not see recognition of this in Kirklees Council’s impact assessments. While Cycle Kirklees supports the objective of introducing and uplifting parking charges, we urge careful consideration of the unintended impacts.

“We will want to see the implementation of enforcement measures against illegal and inconsiderate parking to mitigate adverse effects on communities and local economies and on those who choose to walk or cycle.”

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin

Chris also recognises the impact car parking charges could have on local businesses and suggests that the first 30 minutes parking should be free and there is a weak business case to introduce the charges in small car parks of less than 15 spaces.

The group believes the charges may mean more people go to out-of-town retail parks instead and has a radical idea to stop that.

Chris says: “There is also potential for a negative impact that increased tariffs in our main town centres may have on local economies. Such increases will drive more traffic to out-of-town developments offering free parking or drive-in food and drink.

“To mitigate this trend it’s imperative that future planning decisions do not facilitate car-based shopping with free parking and drive-in catering. Planning arrangements for retail developments need to align with these charging principles to ensure fairness.”

Cycle Kirklees also says people are being put off from using bikes by what Chris describes as “the absence of secure cycle parking in Kirklees which inhibits the use of bicycles for commuting, shopping and social purposes. Cyclists need parking facilities in town and village centres, close to key travel destinations.”

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.


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