‘Our town needs free parking’ - says Sir Bill

Sir Bill O'Brien
Sir Bill O'Brien

Fears that car parking charges are driving away trade from a town centre will be raised at a meeting later this month.

Pontefract Town Centre Partnership has invited Coun Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for transport and highways, to its next meeting to discuss the current charges.

Members feel that competition from out-of-town shopping centres, offering free parking, is having a “devastating” effect on the Pontefract economy.

Secretary Sir Bill O’Brien said: “People who want to have shopping, entertainment and pleasure are better going out of town than coming into town. We consider that to be unfair.”

The group is calling on the council to introduce concessionary rates in the town centre to help increase footfall and encourage the take-up of empty shops.

Sir Bill said: “What we are saying is there is unfair competition and some concessions should be made in town centres like Pontefract.”

He said the group wanted free parking on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to draw people in.

Wakefield Council increased parking charges across the district for the first time in five years in June, when it also took on powers to enforce parking restrictions from West Yorkshire Police.

It said the changes were “necessary” to meet the costs of providing car parking facilities.

It will also undertake a full review into parking charges and said residents and businesses will be consulted on proposals for a new policy.

Coun Morley said: “Going forward I want to see a charging policy built around supporting the economic growth of our towns and city, and one that supports those who live and work in the district, as well as meeting the essential costs of providing facilities.”

The meeting takes place at Pontefract Library at 5.30pm on Wednesday, September 14.