Are Calderdale’s new parking charges illegal?

A landmark case against a local council that illegally hiked its parking charges to support other services has cast doubt upon Calderdale Council’s plans to introduce a raft of new parking charges.

The claim that Calderdale could be setting fees illegally follows a High Court judgment last week that ruled Barnet council had wrongly hiked the cost of resident parking permits to raise revenue rather than to relieve or prevent congestion, as the law stipulates.

However, because the High Court ruling on the legislation applies to all councils for all types of parking, Calderdale Council, which commissioned a ‘Parking Income Generation Study’ last year, would appear to be in breach of the regulations. According to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, councils are allowed to set fees for permits and other car parking charges only “for the purpose of relieving or preventing congestion of traffic”. The law does not allow a public body to use parking charges as a revenue-raising measure.

Labour-run Calderdale Council approved a ‘Parking Income Generation Study’ in August 2012 which included eight additional new charges for parking across the borough, many of which have yet to take effect. These ranged from charges applying to evenings and Saturdays, to the introduction of charges for residents’ permits and car parks that were previously free.

The document which outlined the increased charges clearly stated that the intention behind the new policy was ‘to generate additional revenue from parking’ – an aim that is contrary to legislation. The council’s own figures suggest that they are hoping to raise £841,000 per year through these charges which leaves them with an annual income, or profit, of £655,000 after costs.

The council are using hard-pressed motorists as a source of extra revenue. This is clearly against the law and I am calling for the council to reverse the introduction of these charges with immediate effect.

The Conservatives vigorously opposed these charges when they were proposed last year as we believed that they would reduce footfall on the high street and harm local businesses. These proposals are not only bad for the local economy but are also contrary to UK law and the council must act immediately to correct the situation.

Coun Scott Benton (Conservative, Brighouse ward)