On September 3, at the request of Conservative councillors, a special scrutiny meeting was held to examine the decision to introduce extra parking charges across Calderdale.
Since these plans were first announced by the Labour/Liberal Democrat-run council, members of the public from across the borough have contacted their local Councillors to express concern that these proposals will damage our local economy.
At least ten different petitions have been organised by residents and community groups from across Calderdale, who, whilst representing different interests, are united in their opposition to these plans.
The petition in Todmorden, which has been organised by local retailers, will be presented to the council later this month.
A petition organised by businesses in King Cross, Halifax, attracted 1,800 names in just a few days.
When members of the public express deep concern about a proposal, it is the role of councillors to investigate these concerns and to ensure that the voice of the public is heard. Councillors are public servants who have a duty to scrutinise proposals to ensure that they are in the best interests of the community they serve.
I requested the scrutiny meeting on behalf of the thousands of people who are worried that these plans will have a negative impact upon our local businesses and retailers.
I felt that a decision as important as this needed to be properly scrutinised by councillors and that arrangements should have been put in place for members of the public to share their concerns in full.
Unfortunately the Labour/Liberal Democrat-run Council has decided to brush aside the concerns of residents and businesses and proceed with these plans immediately.
It is my belief that these proposals need to be properly investigated and that the concerns of the people of Calderdale must be addressed.
As such, it is deeply disappointing that the council has decided to progress with these plans at a time of great economic uncertainty and has ignored the residents of Calderdale.
The Mary Portas High Street Review and central government both recommend the introduction of more free parking as a way to stimulate our High Streets.
The Labour/Liberal Democrat Council do not understand our local economy – they have no plan to support Todmorden town centre and their proposals to introduce extra parking charges will only make the situation worse.
Coun Scott Benton,
(Conservative, Calderdale Council)