`

Drivers threatened to shop outside of Wakefield if free Sunday car parking was scrapped

editorial image

Wakefield Council shelved plans to introduce car parking charges on evenings, Sundays and bank holidays after motorists threatened to shop elsewhere.

A backlash from drivers forced the council  to back down on the idea last November, and the results of the consultation over the charges have now been revealed .

Of the 972 people surveyed by the council, two thirds said they would not in  Wakefield if the charges were introduced.

People were also concerned that the idea would affect church goers on Sundays and deter visitors from coming to Wakefield at the weekend.

A report , which will go before the council’s cabinet tomorrow, said that there was evidence of “problems” at times when parking is free, because demand exceeds the number of available spaces.

However, while there was some support for a flat £1 fee on evenings,  82 per cent said they were against paying on Sundays and bank holidays.

Speaking at the end of last year, the council’s portfolio holder for transport, Matthew Morley, said: “We have listened to residents and want to do everything we can support local businesses.

“We hope that by not introducing any additional charges we can continue to support our city and towns to thrive.”

However, parking charges are likely to be introduced at Anglers Country Park, including on Sundays.

Charges are already in place at similar sites in Pugneys Country Park and Newmillerdam.  At Newmillerdam, Sunday parking has been free, but this is set to end.

The report said: “Charging at Anglers Country Park will bring this in line with the policy in place at all other council run Country Parks (Pugneys and Newmillerdam).

“Implementing a charging schedule will contribute to the maintenance and

environmental improvement of the country park.”

The report adds that the policy is necessary, “to enable continued investment to maintain and improve the park (and) to ensure its continued use for generations to come”.

Although there was a slight decline in visitors to Pugneys when free parking was scrapped there in 2011, numbers have now returned to their pre-charge level. The local authority believes this is evidence that despite initial opposition, the policy will prove “acceptable” in the long run.

At a glance: The consultation in numbers

972 people were surveyed over plans to scrap free car parking on evenings, Sundays and bank holidays

94% said they used the car parks at those times

67% said they would shop elsewhere if charges were introduced

82% supported no charges on bank holidays and weekends

19% said they’d be happy to pay a flat £1 fee on evenings

David Spereall , Local Democracy Reporting Service