By David Spereall, local democracy reporter
West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin has backed controversial plans to charge drivers for using Leeds’ parks and green spaces.
Leeds City Council is proposing to introduce parking fees at sites across the city, with charges starting at 40p-an-hour.
The plans have drawn criticism and been labelled a “fresh air tax” by local Liberal Democrat councillors.
The Labour-run administration says the move would bring in badly-needed cash – the local authority is having to use reserves for the first time in recent history this year to plug a £15m gap.
Asked about the plans on BBC Radio Leeds on Thursday, Mayor Brabin said: “I think it’s fair to say that if you want to park, you pay a small amount for that parking.
“I’m trying to get people out of their cars. I need to get people on buses and on trains.
“We need a network that’s going to work for people, to get them out of their car.
“But anything that makes people think twice about using their car is good for the environment, is good for air and good for the climate crisis.”
If the plan is approved as part of the city council’s new budget in the spring, then the charges would affect around 30 venues across the city.
Kirkstall Abbey, Roundhay Park, Temple Newsam and Otley Chevin Park would be among some of the bigger green spaces affected.
As revealed by WLD yesterday parking charges in West Leeds could be implemented at Armley Park, Bramley Falls Wood, Farnley Hall Park, New Wortley Rec, Queens Park in Pudsey, Gotts Park in Armley, Stanningley Park and Western Flatts Park in Wortley.
A document seen by WLD revealed a total of 21 community parks are currently under consideration across the city. These include:
The council has said it may introduce season ticket options for people who use the same park several times a month.
It’s also been indicated that charges would be payable via an app, rather than having pay machines installed.
WLD understands Leeds City Council likely to provide an update on the issue next week.