See below a speech from Cllr Debbie Davies (Baildon) given at Full Council on Tuesday 15th October 2019.
We want to do all we can to help people to shop locally by supporting small shops and businesses. We are particularly keen to promote our towns and villages where there is often no free parking available since charges were introduced in recent years and increased further this year.
We also want a commitment to promote Small Business Saturday on the 7th December. This provides the ideal opportunity to show we are serious about supporting local businesses. This is particularly important because of the rise in internet shopping and gimmicks such as Black Friday.
We are therefore pleased that Labour’s amendment seeks to consider many ways to support Small Business Saturday.
However, the amendment also states that many car parks are full during the times we have suggested in December for free parking so there would be no benefits. This may be the case in some car parks but then people will have more money in their pockets to spend in local shops rather than on parking charges and certainly not all car parks will be full.
It now costs more to park in the centre of Bingley than the city centre as Bradford has several privately run car parks, some of which are free for up to 3 hours or just £2.50 for the whole day. In Ilkley the difference is even more stark with a charge of £6 for up to 6 hours.
We would like to see some short stay charges scrapped permanently, particularly as neighbouring councils have managed to retain their free parking in similar sized towns and villages, but that is an argument for another day. However, this proposal aims to at least support our shops during December in the run up to Christmas. This is a vital time for lots of shops, many of which rely on successful Christmas trading to survive.
As well as being good for the district shopping locally is also better for the environment as we will be encouraging people to travel less far to shop and not to shop online.
Our proposal is a simple one - we would like parking charges in towns and villages across the district to be suspended for the three weekends leading up to Christmas in order to support our local shops and to encourage residents to shop locally.
Let’s not be seen as Scrooge like and instead take this opportunity to play a positive role in getting the tills jingling this Christmas.