At Bradford’s Full Council meeting this week Cllr Debbie Davies, called for Bradford Council to “take the lead and do whatever we can to support the district’s recovery going forward” by focusing on “practical steps we as a Council can take to help shops and businesses to recover going forwards”.
She said, “It was reported recently that every council in Yorkshire has asked for more money from the government to support the struggling retail sector but no mention of what we are doing to help ourselves.
“As a Council we could support our shops if action is taken now. Last year we brought a motion to Council calling for free parking in the run up to Christmas – this was sadly defeated but I am appealing to you to think again and offer this concession for at least the last fortnight before Christmas Day.
“This would provide a boost to shops who have had to remain closed through no fault of their own and encourage shoppers to get out and spend money rather than stay in and shop via the internet.
“Many other Councils in Yorkshire are providing free parking, for example Kirklees has had no charges in its Council run car parks for nine months and Wakefield has no charges in their car parks or on street until 18th January next year.
“These councils clearly see free parking as a way to help residents and businesses and support the recovery from COVID-19 and it would be fantastic if the Bradford district could also benefit from this”.
Labour's Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said "The Conservatives underestimate how severe this is for our economy, free parking is not going to hack it, you need massive investment in regeneration. What we are doing is One City Park, markets and the former Odeon building."
Despite criticism of the Conservative group, the motion was overwhelmingly passed by the Council. It would be good, therefore, if that resolution were to translate to action.
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Davies expressed disappointment at the response from Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe saying "Despite Cllr Hinchcliffe's comments I am pleased she and the vast majority of Labour Councillors voted for our motion. It was particularly interesting to hear about the regeneration projects that Labour are focusing on.
"Unfortunately the majority are, as usual, heavily focused on central Bradford rather than the outer areas such as Baildon. The Conservative motion was intended to support the whole district and we will continue to fight for the outer areas and remind Labour that there is life outside of Bradford City Centre."