Campaigners fight for free parking in town centre

Members of the Town Centre Partnership want parking fees to be scrapped in periods when footfall is low, to encourage people to visit the town.

Members of the Town Centre Partnership want parking fees to be scrapped in periods when footfall is low, to encourage people to visit the town.

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Campaigners are fighting for free car parking to be introduced in Pontefract, over fears that charges are driving away trade.

Members of the Town Centre Partnership want parking fees to be scrapped in periods when footfall is low, to encourage people to visit the town.

They met with Coun Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for transport and highways, last week to request the concessions.

Secretary Sir Bill O’Brien said: “The appeal of The Partnership is for a trial period, a concession of not charging for car parking on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon which are days when the foot-fall in Pontefract is very low, to observe if significant benefits can be introduced to the towns economy, to keep Pontefract from going into further decline.”

Members feel out-of-town shopping centres, with free parking, are driving away trade from the town centre.

Sir Bill said: “People now journey to Junction 32 to meet for a coffee or a look around there because they are not pressed with car parking restrictions and free of enforcement officers.

“We request similar conditions on occasions in the town centre in support for those people live and work in Pontefract. We do not feel this is an unreasonable request.”

Coun Morley listened to the views and concerns of residents and business owners. And Sir Bill said he agreed to visit the town to look at the conditions.

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: “We’re always open to ideas as to how we can help to support businesses and work in partnership to enhance our town and city centres.”