NAWN 1901152AM1 Wilderness Car Park, The Mayor of Wetherby Coun. Galan Moss with councillors Victor Hawkins, Denise Podlewska, Cindy Bentley, Norma Harrington, David Frame, Dawn Payne and Town Clark Iona Taylor in the Wilderness car park. (19011552AM1)
Town councillors are demanding to be told how much revenue is expected to be generated by proposed parking charges at Wetherby’s Wilderness car park. In a strongly worded letter to Leeds City Council’s director of communities and environment James Rogers, shared with the Wetherby News, they also asked how much of this cash would be put back into the community.
The letter stated: “It is clear that this is a politically motivated, revenue raising decision which does not form part of either a city or town-wide transport strategy.
“The proposals are not evidence based and do not seem to be accompanied by appropriate impact assessments to show how they could help, or more likely harm our town.
“The town council is, therefore, writing to formally record its displeasure at the proposals and the way in which they have been brought forward by Leeds City Council and to request the following information - how much revenue is expected to be raised by implementing parking charges in the Wilderness/Riverside car park and how much of this revenue is it proposed will be invested back in to Wetherby?”
The town council said it understood that there will be a consultation on the proposals and called to be kept informed of developments relating to the charges proposal.
“Whilst the town council accepts that improvements could be made to parking arrangements in Wetherby, it strongly objects to the proposals put forward and the way in which they have come about,” added the letter.
“The council is shocked that it learned about what is proposed from local social media sources and that it was not consulted, or at least informed by Leeds City Council.”
A city council report of initial budget proposals for 2019/20 by the chief officer of financial services went before the executive board in December.
It highlighted Wetherby’s major car park as one of three in Leeds, along with Guiseley and Garforth, being capable of generating £200,000 through pay and display.
A Leeds City Council spokesman told the News this week: “Proposals to introduce pay and display parking charges in some local district car parks are part of our initial budget proposals for 2019/2020.
“The council faces similar financial challenges to last year, including a £24m gap to close between income and service costs. Consultation on the budget proposals finishes this Friday and people are invited to have their say at: www.leeds.gov.uk/budgetconsultation”
Last week Wetherby Lib Dems said they would be campaigning for improved parking and transport through their five-point plan.
They called for a minimum of four hours free parking in the Wilderness car park, free parking permits across Wetherby for all people who work in the town, urgent investment in a Wetherby park and ride facility, extra bus services to and from Leeds and a York Circular bus, connecting Wetherby, York, Tadcaster, Boston Spa and surrounding villages.
But Wetherby ward councillors - Norma Harrington, Gerald Wilkinson and Alan Lamb - this week said in their Wetherby News column that they would continue the fight for free parking.
“Our view and strategy is that Wetherby needs more free parking, not less.
“We have publicly stated many times before that we are totally against this idea.”
They added: “We have fought for a long time to keep parking in Wetherby free of any charges.
“By working hard with the private sector to take the Hallfield Lane (Cluster of Nuts) car park from being privately-run, we secured over £1m in funding to upgrade the car park and crucially, abolished the parking charges there.
“We also introduced more free long-term spaces in the old station car park as part of the development.”