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Motorists fight to save Leeds city centre car park from closure

City centre car park on Whitehall Road, Leeds, where a dispute has erupted over its possible closure

City centre car park on Whitehall Road, Leeds, where a dispute has erupted over its possible closure

ANGRY drivers have voiced their concerns ahead of the possible shutdown of a popular city centre car park.

Hundreds of people have written to complain over the council’s decision not to renew Elite Parking’s long-stay licence.

Around 350 commuters park at the site on Whitehall Road every day, many of whom are long-stay users.

Elite Parking, which also operates as City Parking, leases the land and fears they will lose almost all of their customers if they are forced to apply for a short-stay licence.

Catherine Short, car park and business manager for the company, said: “Most of our customers are long-stay parkers. We would be forced to close because we wouldn’t be able to afford our rent and staff wages.”

Five people currently work at the car park, which is expected to close when the lease ends on January 26.

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland has also voiced his concerns after receiving over 150 complaints from customers who regularly use the car park.

He said: “This car park provides an important service to people commuting to work as well as those visiting the city centre. It is clearly a counterproductive and deeply unpopular decision.

“[Elite Parking] are a company that have avoided increasing prices unlike many other operators who have done so, pricing many commuters and shoppers out of the city centre.”

Leeds City Council claims the company has known since January 2010 that they are in breach of planning regulations and have known for a year that their lease would end.

Executive board member for the economy and development, councillor Richard Lewis, said: “In 2011 we approved 12 temporary car parks on cleared private land totalling almost 3,500 spaces – of these, 900 are on Whitehall Road and 1,800 off Sweet Street nearby. This is a significant provision.

“Elite Parking’s site was never one of the approved sites and has operated illegally for over four years. They have been fully aware that they must stop since an independent Government inspector refused their appeal in June last year.

“This followed our refusal of their planning application in March 2012 because it failed to address important issues.”

He added: “Elite Parking have known since January 2010 that they are in breach of planning regulations, and have been aware since the Government inspector’s decision on 26 June, 2013 that they have until the end of their lease on 26 January, 2014 to stop operating.

“They have only advised their customers this week.”

Taylor Wimpey owns the site at Whitehall Road, but no-one at the company was available for comment.

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