Kirklees Council is ending free parking in towns and villages and is increasing parking charges in Huddersfield town centre by around 60% from 70p an hour to £1.10 per hour.

The cost of parking all day in Huddersfield town centre will rise from £4 to £6.50.

The council is fighting to stave off effective bankruptcy and must save £47 million ahead of the next financial year from April.

The council says parking charges haven’t been increased since 2009 and from January 2024 they plan to increase them by the rate of inflation – backdated to 2009.

Then every year from 2025 onwards charges will rise by the rate of inflation.

The council’s Cabinet will be asked to agree the changes at a meeting on Tuesday November 14.

Historically parking charges have been a divisive issue for councillors as main towns Huddersfield and Dewsbury had charges but other big towns such as Batley, Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike had free parking, and still do.

Councillors in Huddersfield and Dewsbury believed that was unfair but councillors in towns with free parking always won the argument.

The last time the council tried to end free parking was in 2018 but hundreds of people signed petitions against the move and it was eventually dropped.

However, now the financial landscape is bleak and the council must rake in every penny it can and nothing is off limits.

Parking charges will now be introduced in village centres around Huddersfield where parking is currently free. These include: Meltham, Lindley, Honley, Slaithwaite, Almondbury, Marsh, Lockwood, Milnsbridge, Netherton, Emley and Skelmanthorpe.

Charges in Dewsbury will rise to 50p per hour or £6.50 for a full day and those same charges will apply to all other towns and villages across Kirklees.

Huddersfield town centre will have the highest charges with the current minimum 70p an hour rising to £1.10 an hour.

Town centre workers who have to park five days a week could find themselves paying £32.50 a week, or £130 a month. They would currently pay £20 a week or £80 a month.

A council report says: “Kirklees Council operates both off-street car parks and on-street parking bays across the district. Parking tariffs vary across the district, with some car parks being free of any charges currently.

“Parking tariffs have remained unchanged since 2009. It is proposed to increase existing tariffs by inflation, retrospectively back to 2009 and to introduce a comparable rate on car parks that are currently free of charges.

“Charges for car parking in council-owned parking areas will be 6 days a week Monday to Saturday inclusive with Sunday charging in a select number of car parks.

“A review of short stay and long stay provision will also be undertaken, to reflect changing demand for retail, commuter and cultural time spent in our town and village centres.

“Under the council’s Financial Procedure Rules, fees and charges must be reviewed at least once per annum.

“It is proposed to revise car parking charges/tariffs annually thereafter. It is anticipated that revised car parking charges will be introduced from January 2024.

“Future revisions of parking tariffs/charges will be implemented annually to achieve budget targets, account for changes in legislation and market conditions. This will be in line with inflation, rounded to the nearest 10p.”

The council says it is aware of the importance of maintaining “vitality and vibrancy” of town and village centres and will review short and long-stay provision “as town centre vibrancy changes.”

The council also says increasing charges is in line with West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s policy to discourage car use and promote walking, cycling and public transport.

The council wants to “set parking charges that do not promote car usage over more sustainable modes of travel.”

Clr Yusra Hussain, Cabinet member for culture and greener Kirklees, said: “The council is continuing to review fees and charges across all services, this is to enable us to produce a balanced budget in February.

“Parking charges have remained static for the last 14 years but due to the current financial climate we are unable to hold these current prices any longer.

“Fee increases are not a decision we make lightly and, while we appreciate that an increase in parking charges will not be welcome news, we have initiatives to offset the increase in charges.

“Frequent car park users can buy discounted Season Tickets for use in council-owned car parks while electric vehicle and ULEV owners can apply for the Green One, which is further discounted.

“Over the last few years, we have also made significant investments to encourage active travel across Kirklees including walking, cycling, and bus routes. By making fewer journeys by car, we can all contribute to reducing our carbon footprint, improve air quality and help tackle the climate emergency.”