Monday, June 24, 2024
HomeNewsLeeds City Council scraps controversial parking charge plans at parks - updated

Leeds City Council scraps controversial parking charge plans at parks – updated

By John Baron

Controversial Leeds City Council plans to charge for car parking at selected green spaces across Leeds have today been DROPPED by the local authority following a public outcry.

The council had aimed to introduce a charge of around 40p an hour at almost 30 green spaces across the city in a bid to help it balance its books in the next financial year.

Big city attractions such as Golden Acre Park in Bramhope, Kirkstall Abbey, Middleton Park, Otley Chevin Park, Roundhay Park and Temple Newsam were among the large areas of parkland where free parking for the city’s residents would end.

WLD understands parking charges in West Leeds were also being considered for Armley Park, Bramley Fall Woods, Farnley Hall Park, New Wortley Rec, Queens Park in Pudsey, Gotts Park in Armley, Stanningley Park and Western Flatts Park in Wortley.

The council has been looking at a number of options to tackle major financial pressures to establish a sustainable budget for 2023/24 – and the possible introduction of parking charges at its major parks along with some community parks was one of those options.

New Wortley Rec. Photo: Katherine Turner

Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s executive member for public health and active lifestyles, said the council had listened to feedback, which had included a 9,000-name petition against the proposals.

She said: “We have a firm commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of people in Leeds and ensuring they have access to parks and greenspaces is key to that.

“The initial proposals that were scheduled for consultation with the public were to introduce modest charges for car parking at a number of our parks, which would enable improvement works to be carried out as well as contributing to the council’s budgetary pressures.

“However, having listened to the valuable feedback we have received from residents, we will not be progressing this proposal at this time. Nonetheless, the financial outlook for all local authorities remains challenging and further work will need to be done to identify further savings and efficiencies for 2024/25 onwards.”

The council has, however, warned it may need to revisit new income options in the future due to continuing budget pressures.

The 9,000-name petition had been started by Leeds resident Brian Culleton, who had said: “It’s utterly ridiculous that Leeds City Council would entertain this notion during their own self-appointed Year of Culture. The charge may only be starting at 40p per hour but it will be a slippery slope before it rises.

“The residents of Leeds are cash-strapped and many people who are lonely use the parks as a social outlet to meet other people. Many families use the parks as their primary way of entertaining their children.”

The petition can be viewed in full here.

There are 63 community parks and seven major parks over 4,000 hectares in Leeds. The council says its parks and countryside budget figures for 23/24 is £10.219m and that the authority is committed to spending over £39m on its parks and greenspaces over the next 12 months. 

WLD has been following local government budget cuts through our Cutswatch series.

UPDATE 4.20pm: Pudsey councillor Trish Smith (who is Conservative Group Shadow Spokesperson for Parks and Countryside) said she was pleased the council had listened to feedback and “done a U-turn” on the controversial proposal, which was due to be consulted on in advance of the city’s budget being set next month.

“This is the right decision for the city and for all our residents, whose health and wellbeing must always come first,” she said. “I’m pleased the council has listened to feedback and opted to not move ahead with what were, frankly, very shortsighted proposals. 

“Charging for parking at major parks and community parks could have impacted visitor numbers and displaced parking onto nearby residential streets. I also think the scheme would have struggled to raise the amount of money envisioned. It’s therefore good news that the council has listened and done a U-turn on the proposals.

“We recognise that these plans were proposed in the context of financial pressures. But our parks and greenspaces are a vital part of the city and so many people rely on them for exercise, leisure and relaxation. We must not risk these huge health and wellbeing benefits in pursuit of savings that can and should be found elsewhere, and I’m glad the scheme will now not proceed.” 

2 COMMENTS

  1. How about Leeds City Council’s parks department set up a Patreon page (or some other similar service) so those people who value our green spaces and are able/willing to contribute say £2 per month towards their upkeep can do so.

  2. Or the council could publish a specific list of projects and major works that need funding to improve the parks, with a Paypal link for people to donate towards that project. For example at Golden Acre the greenhouse that houses the indoor fish pond has quite obviously reached the end of its life and keeps suffering storm damage. People could donate towards its replacement.

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