Leeds city centre car parking charges go up - and free bank holiday parking is scrapped

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An increase in evening and weekend parking charges in Leeds city centre - and a scrapping of free bank holiday parking except on Christmas Day - has been signed off by council bosses.

The higher rates apply to Leeds City Council managed parking spaces only, and will help generate up to £700,000 of additional annual income for the public purse.

At the moment, council spaces are free on bank holidays.

A report just signed off by the council’s highways bosses says: “The city centre is increasingly popular as a retail and leisure destination on these days [bank holidays]. It is proposed to extend normal daily charges to bank holidays except Christmas day which will remain free.”

The new bank holiday charges only apply in the city centre and other areas are not affected.

As well as the new bank holiday fees, the evening 6pm to 10pm rate will rise to £3 from £2.

The four-hour rate for Sundays will double from £1 to £2 and the over-five-hours fee will go up from £4 to £5. Small increases will also be applied at Woodhouse Lane multi-storey.

The council acknowledges that any increase brings with it a risk of pushing people out of the city centre.

Its report says “The main risk is introducing a price regime that is uncompetitive and leads to lower occupancy.”

But it adds: “The effect of the changes will be closely monitored following its introduction.”

Leeds City Council first introduced charges for Sundays and Evenings in November 2013.

The authority says that despite this, “usage is very high” and the increases are “appropriate”.

However, as reported in the YEP, fears were raised earlier in the year by the council’s own regeneration boss councillor Richard Lewis that the hikes could fuel a “tipping point” effect on shoppers and motorists.

He insisted the charges are still fair - and a whole lot better than the private sector rates which apply in 70 per cent of the city’s car parking spaces.

“While we would rather not put up charges, it’s always a fine calculation to ensure that our car parking is used to the maximum and we don’t tip over to the point where we are putting people off,” he said.