A public consultation on the ending of free parking in village car parks across Kirklees will be launched before the end of February.
Kirklees Council says no decisions have yet been made ahead of a period of statutory consultation which could impact villages such as Honley, Meltham, Lindley, Slaithwaite and Almondbury.
The council will increase existing parking charges by the rate of inflation – back-dated to 2009 – from Monday February 19.
Consultation on introducing charges on council car parks that are currently free will be launched later this month, Cabinet member for highways Clr Aafaq Butt told a full meeting of Kirklees Council on Wednesday.
The council has previously said the new parking charges would bring in £2.6 million for the council, though that estimate included just 21 car parks. Kirklees currently has 57 free car parks.
At the Huddersfield Town Hall meeting, Honley businessman and local campaigner David Heathcote (below, left) quizzed Clr Butt on how much parking charges raised for the council.
Clr Butt (above, right) said there was a £1.97m loss in 2020-21, a £301,000 loss in 2021-22, a £299,000 surplus in 2022-23 and a projected loss of £700,000 in 2023-24.
Clr Butt said parking revenue went into the general highways budget but did not answer Mr Heathcote’s specific question about whether money raised in Honley, for example, would be spent in Honley.
Mr Heathcote also asked whether the council had carried out a financial impact assessment on how charges would affect local car parks.
He added: “I spoke to small businesses in Honley where I work and also in Meltham and they are very worried about the impact of these charges on their businesses.
“What can the Cabinet say to reassure local businesses that this decision will not negatively impact their business?”
Clr Butt replied: “The council have not made a decision yet for parking in Honley and Meltham at this time. A decision will be made following a statutory consultation which is due to be launched before the end of February this year.”
Later in the meeting Clr Charles Greaves (Ind, Holme Valley North) asked: “When will the financial details supporting the introduction of parking charges to villages be made available?”
Clr Butt replied: “On completion of the statutory consultation, a report will be presented to Cabinet Local Issues.
“We are yet to confirm what car parks will become chargeable, remain free or otherwise. The report to Cabinet will include financial details.”
The consultation will be advertised and notices placed on affected car parks.
After the meeting Mr Heathcote said he believed there was a “glimmer of hope” that parking charges would not be imposed everywhere.
“This is a crucial time for local small businesses and we must remove any barriers and support them,” he said.