Lib Dems Slam Proposed Parking Charge Increases

Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group has slammed proposals to increase car parking charges throughout Calderdale.

The matter was discussed by the Council’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel at a meeting on Thursday 8th September, and will be discussed again by the Council’s Cabinet on Monday 12th.

Councillor James Baker (Warley), the leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group said: “Yet again the Council seems determined to upset local residents, shop-keepers and business owners by introducing hefty increases in parking charges.”

“Although increases are planned for towns across Calderdale, Hebden Bridge seems – again – to be being singled out for particularly harsh treatment. It is already the only town in Calderdale where charges are in place for seven days a week, but now there is a suggestion that on-street charges could be increased from 40p an hour to £1. It is too much. No wonder people think the Council is treating Hebden Bridge as a cash cow.”

“It is particularly annoying to be told by Labour councillors that increased charges have been known about for some years. When concerns were raised previously, we were told that it wasn’t just about putting up prices. I feel that we have been misled.”

“We have previously suggested that a free half-hour could be introduced to aid shoppers who just want to buy a newspaper or a snack, but nothing seems to have come of this. Calderdale Council needs to sort out its parking issues, but at the moment it doesn’t look as if it will”, said Cllr Baker.

6 thoughts on “Lib Dems Slam Proposed Parking Charge Increases

  1. Barry Collins says:

    According to the finance department, James, two thirds of the £600,000 saving which Calderdale has to find from the parking service dates back to the 2012/13 budget, when Janet Battye (Liberal Democrat) was leader of the council. It might be helpful if you could now share with us your party’s plans for achieving it.

    Regards

    Barry

    • jamesbaker says:

      Our approach would have been to setup a cross-party working group, and then we would have consulted with residents and businesses. We would also encourage more Town and Parish Council’s and provide them with the option of asset transferring car parks to them. It would make sense to have introduced a scheme a number of years ago that linked any required increases in parking charges to inflation. This would ensure fair, and if required gradual increases in parking. Our problem with the current proposals are as follows:

      1. They were not published on the cabinet key decision list, we only found out about them last minute when you phoned to see if we could rush it onto the scrutiny panel meeting.
      2. They don’t consider the scrutiny panel’s recommendation to provide a period of free parking (and then charges)
      3. They treat Hebden Bridge like a cash cow whilst sparing other places like Brighouse any increases at all
      4. They don’t create a fair system that sets out when and how parking charges will increase in the future.

      • Barry Collins says:

        The scrutiny panel which you chair, James, rejected your proposal of a cross-party working group only last week.

        The option to dispose of certain, less popular car parks (as you know) would be subject to ward councillor consultation and would not rule out the possibility of community asset transfer.

        To repeat, the initial £400,000 parking saving was first agreed when Janet Battye (Liberal Democrat) was leading the council. What’s more, your party made no objection when the further £200,000 target was added – and at no time previously have the Liberal Democrats proposed charging increases pegged to inflation.

        In terms of your stated “problems”, the “key decision” issue is far from clear, procedurally; I have already said that cabinet would look at a period of free parking where there are on-street charges, and the option of introducing such charges to Brighouse is actually included in the cabinet paper.

        Finally, there will be no conclusions at Monday’s cabinet meeting. Our intention (as scrutiny asked) is to bring forward proposals for decision only after further consideration.

        Regards

        Barry

        • jamesbaker says:

          Yes It’s a shame that both Tory and Labour Councillors on the scrutiny panel I chair didn’t favour a cross-party working group on parking but there you go. Your point is what? That Tories and Labour vote together a lot of the time on Calderdale Council?

          I think the key decision issue is explicitly clear. 13.3 b (ii) of the constitution states ‘The Council’s definition of significant for the purpose of a key decision involving expenditure or savings is an executive decision incurring expenditure or making savings with a gross full year effect of £200,00 or more’

          Also ‘is likely to be significant in terms of the effect on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more wards in the authority area’.

          Perhaps rather than going back years to a time when I wasn’t even a Calderdale Councillor you could answer this question.

          Why did the report say it was a key decision if it’s now being claimed it isn’t? Is it your view this is a key decision or do you accept your department made a mistake by stating it was on the paper?

          Our issue here is not that we might have to have a modest rise in parking charges, but the way you are using Hebden Bridge as a cash cow.

          I will be glad if you delay making any decisions on this, you said yourself the officer who wrote this paper had not been well and that was the reason there were some errors in the paper. I personally think it needs some more work on it.

          I do however think it’s telling that you are able to pre-empt the outcome of a meeting that has yet to occur. It says something about how your cabinet meetings operate that you are able to assure us before a discussion has even taken place what the outcome will be.

          • jamesbaker says:

            If on Monday a decision over parking is delayed, and you then consult on a wider basis and come back with plans that reduce the increase in Hebden Bridge that would be welcome. We would then consider our campaign on this issue to have been a victory.

            I’m not being unreasonable here, i’m not saying point blank that Liberal Democrats will oppose any increase in parking charges. They haven’t gone up in years, and prices do rise from time to time. We accept this.

            Hopefully with a little bit of listening then we can avoid a repeat of what happened last time a minority Labour administration tried to push through it’s parking proposals without the support of Council.

  2. Barry Collins says:

    Excellent, James. So now there can perhaps be a sensible discussion about how best to achieve the savings already agreed by council – savings which, of course, could never have been “pushed through” simply by a “minority Labour administration”. Hopefully, we’ll find an acceptable solution. If so, I’d prefer to think of it as a “victory” for common-sense, not for any particular political group.

    Barry

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