Introducing parking charges on evenings and Sundays would drive people away from the city centre and be a major blow to local business, it has been warned.
Wakefield Civic Society has written to Wakefield Council urging the authority to abandon a proposal to bring in charges for overnight and Sunday parking at its pay and display car parks and on street.
President Kevin Trickett says society members fear the move would “dis-incentivise” people from visiting the city centre. “Many of our members say quite simply that they will go elsewhere or stay at home if the charges are introduced,” he writes in the letter.
Society members say the charges would risk driving people away to shopping centres such as White Rose and Meadowhall where parking is free.
It continues: “When it comes to restaurants there are just too many other places outside the city centre for people to go where no parking charges would be payable.”
Members also fear the charges could make it harder for community groups to attract people to evening events and activities.
And they go as far to suggest that the council instead considers introducing limited free parking during the daytime to encourage more people into the city.
The parking proposals, which also include introducing charges at Anglers Country Park at the same rate as Pugneys, and limiting free parking to three hours at Thornes Park and Normanton, Minsthorpe and Pontefract leisure centres, are being considered after a consultation period closed.
At the time the plans were unveiled, Coun Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for transport and highways, said: “These proposals aim to make more parking spaces available for genuine users of our leisure and parks sites across the district, and allow us to take enforcement action to tackle any issues.
“If the plans were to go ahead, any surplus income generated from the changes would be used to fund improvements for the car parks bringing benefits to local residents.”
Any changes are expected to come into force in the new year.