Traders in Leeds city centre say they have been left “staggered” after parking chiefs decided to introduce new Sunday and evening charges for thousands of council-run spaces a month before Christmas.
Leeds City Council has confirmed that a raft of new charges will come into effect on Monday, November 18.
A £2 flat rate will apply from 6pm to 10pm seven days a week. On Sundays, parking for less than four hours will cost £1 and £4 for anything over. Blue Badge holders will still be able to park for free.
The new charges will initially apply to 2,400 council-controlled on-street spaces. Plans to bring off-street charging into line with on-street are also underway.
The controversial new fees were first approved in June, and can now be implemented after legal processes were completed. Gary Clay, from Morland Bathrooms in The Calls, said he was “very unsurprised” the plan is being enforced, but “staggered” it is at the busiest shopping period of the year. “It’s truly amazing they are doing this just before Christmas,” he said “If it’s a case of ‘only £2’ then why can’t they do without it? And for how long will that £2 be? I’m not surprised, I’m despondent.”
The council insists parking costs in Leeds are still “modest” compared to other cities, and “considerably cheaper” than private car parks which already charge for Sundays and evenings.
A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “While we acknowledge that charging for something that was previously free isn’t going to be popular, we must find a delicate balance between managing the increasing demand for parking alongside the need to keep traffic and the economy moving and encouraging people to make the most of public transport.
The modest charges provide a very competitive offer. The charges mean we can create a turnover in all pay and display spaces in the city centre and help the economy with better management of parking.”