Leeds car parking charges: U-turn on plans to charge drivers for parking at green spaces welcomed by opposition councillors
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Motorists could have been forced to pay around 40p-an-hour at parks under plans put forward by the cash-strapped city council. But following a huge backlash against the idea, the Labour-run council announced on Thursday it would not progess the idea, which would have brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
Reacting to the news, the Conservative group’s shadow spokesperson for parks and countryside, Councillor Trish Smith said: “This is the right decision for the city and for all our residents, whose health and wellbeing must always come first. I’m pleased the council has listened to feedback and opted to not move ahead with what were, frankly, very shortsighted proposals.
“Charging for parking at major parks and community parks could have impacted visitor numbers and displaced parking onto nearby residential streets. I also think the scheme would have struggled to raise the amount of money envisioned.”
Around 30 sites across the city would have been affected by the proposals, including Roundhay Park, Temple Newsam, Middleton Park and Golden Acre Park in Bramhope. Councillor Stewart Golton, the leader of the city’s Liberal Democrat group, had labelled the plans a “fresh air tax”.
Speaking on Thursday, he said: “The level of protest has knocked some sense into the Labour administration on their proposals for car parking charges in our local parks. There is precious little these days you can access for free to get exercise or leisure, and people were genuinely distressed at the prospect of being priced out of a day in the park.”
Announcing the decision on Thursday, Councillor Salma Arif, Labour’s executive member for public health, said the authority had a “firm commitment” to ensuring people could acess local parks.
She added: “The initial proposals that were scheduled for consultation with the public were to introduce modest charges for car parking at a number of our parks, which would enable improvement works to be carried out as well as contributing to the council’s budgetary pressures. However, having listened to the valuable feedback we have received from residents, we will not be progressing this proposal at this time. Nonetheless, the financial outlook for all local authorities remains challenging and further work will need to be done to identify further savings and efficiencies for 2024/25 onwards.”