Freelance journalist ANDY HIRST, who runs his own Huddersfield-based copywriting and PR agency, gives his views on Kirklees Council’s plans to introduce charges in 57 free car parks across the district.

Kirklees Council has revealed plans to impose car parking charges in all its car parks in its suburbs, villages and towns but I have serious concerns this is only the start in reaping money from motorists.

I fear this is the thin edge of the wedge and in the foreseeable future thousands of Kirklees residents could end up paying simply to park on the street near their homes.

The new charges at the 57 car parks could also have implications for road safety and a serious financial impact on local businesses with large supermarkets and retail parks benefiting instead. A three-week public consultation is now underway.

Incidentally, it also looks like the new charges will have to be paid through the RingGo app meaning anyone who can’t – or chooses not to – use a smartphone will be excluded.

How and why will all this happen?

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.

Holme Valley North Independent councillor Charles Greaves has already handed in a 5,784-signature petition against the charges for Honley and Meltham but will other areas also take a stand?

Town End car park in Golcar

Once the charges are imposed – and I think it will be a case of when not if despite the council consultation – drivers will simply shun the car parks when there are free spaces on nearby roads.

Who will pay 80p in a car park to nip into a couple of local shops when they can park on the road for free?

It’s going to cost a lot of money to set up pay machines at all the car parks and will any of them actually make much in return for the council? The council haven’t given any financial information so we just don’t know.

The problem then is that the roads in many of our suburbs and villages will be crammed with cars parked kerbside and my fear is the next solution Kirklees could have in mind … permit parking.

We can see that in some places already – especially in places like Lindley near to the hospital and Springwood close to Huddersfield town centre.

Motorists have to pay for their permits and, surprise, surprise, the cost is only going one way and that’s up.

So, perhaps expect car parking charges today, loads of resident only parking permit areas introduced in the not too distant future and then price hike after price hike for the cost of those permits.

Car parking permits rise by 200% ‘punishing’ residents simply because of where they live, say Lindley Lib Dems

My concern is that this will happen everywhere, reaping millions for the council to meet its budget shortfall.

So that’s why we need to fight against the imposition of these car parking charges now as they are the first battle in a continual war on motorists to make them pay in every way imaginable.

Also, bear in mind that the way councils are funded could change if Labour wins power at the looming General Election and, at the moment, it’s pointing to a landslide Labour victory.

Here’s Kirklees Council’s reasons for implementing the new charges and my response to them.

The council says: “The level of charges being proposed recognises the need to be consistent with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority policy by encouraging the use of alternative means of transport whilst also recognising the need to maintain the vitality and viability of town centres and local facilities.”

Yet buses run to sparse timetables in many villages so would people really get on a bus to travel a mile or so to their nearest village centre?

More likely they’d use the car to go to a supermarket instead if they can no longer park in their village or suburb for free and so it’s bound to have a negative impact on the ‘vitality and viability of local facilities.’

And, as we are all painfully aware, trains are hideously unreliable and expensive.

Westgate Car Park in Honley. Image by: Sean Doyle

The council says: “The proposal is to introduce appropriate levels of parking charges as well as the continuation or introduction of maximum stays.”

It’s a ‘no’ to the parking charges but implementing some maximum stays could give more people a chance to find parking spots and so encourage more visitors and shoppers.

The council says: “The level of proposed charges is consistent with other parking charges levied across the region.”

Parking charges already implemented elsewhere may not be justifiable so copying them for the sake of it is a spurious argument.

The council says: “It is intended the income generated will enable car parks to be improved and maintained and regular enforcement will ensure that the car parks are used properly by drivers, with restrictions respected and adhered to.”

Let’s not forget we all pay heavily to local government through the Council Tax and other charges already which could be used to maintain car parks, so spending money reaped by enforcing something no-one wants doesn’t seem like a good investment either financially or morally.

The council says: “It is intended that regular reviews of parking provision including charges/tariffs will be undertaken to understand what future changes, if any, are required.”

That sounds worrying as prices only ever seem to go up and is this a veiled nod to other money-making schemes such as extending permit parking?

In short, free local car parks have been good for local businesses, the community they serve and for road safety. So why do a U-turn and change all that?

Full details of the car parking proposals for your suburb, village or town can be found in the story below.

Charges are to be imposed on 57 free car parks in Kirklees – here’s how to have your say


To object email: by post to Car Park Objections, Kirklees Council Legal Services, PO Box 1720, Huddersfield HD1 9EL

These must be received sent no later than May 2, 2024, quoting reference DEV/D119-122/Car Parks.