Kirklees Council has extended free parking beyond the 1 September to support the local economy as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Free parking was introduced in all council run car parks and parking spaces on the 15 June, as part of measures to support businesses after lock down, and make sure people can visit the borough’s town centres safely.  The council has now announced that this will continue until the end of the year to help support businesses from now and throughout the Christmas period. The periods of stay will however be enforced, as it is important that short stay spaces close to shops are available for those popping in to do some shopping. The change is in direct response to feedback from businesses.

Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “We have to support our local businesses the best we can to help them recover from what has been a crippling financial period for so many. Free parking is one of the most effective ways that we can support them to bounce back. In particular, organisations such as Dewsbury Forward and Dewsbury Chamber of Trade have highlighted just how much this has helped the local economy so far so we’re more than happy to extend free parking across Kirklees to encourage people to back our businesses.

“However, we must not forget that the pandemic isn’t over and that we are still seeing infections locally,  with cases in almost every ward. We want people to be able to shop, and socialise but it is incredibly important that you continue to do everything you can to stay safe.  Staying 2m apart where possible, wearing a mask when required and washing your hands regularly with soap and water are still the best ways to control the virus.   Doing this will not only reduce the risk of you getting and spreading the virus to more vulnerable friends and relatives, but also reduce the chances of full local lockdowns being enforced in future.

Additional measures to make town centres more attractive to visitors have also been seen across Kirklees.  Visitors to Huddersfield and Dewsbury will have noticed temporary art installations popping up, these creative interventions aim to make the place more attractive, provide opportunities to reflect on the current situation and encourage people to be more socially distant. There are plans to extend these to other towns in the coming months as part of a package of measures.

Cllr Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration said: “We’ve had positive feedback from businesses and residents on the impact of free parking. Waiving parking charges is just part of our longer term recovery plans, making sure that town centres come back stronger following the virus, in order for us to achieve our blueprint ambitions for both Huddersfield and Dewsbury.’

“It is essential that we do what we can to support local businesses during this recovery period which is why we want to make sure our town centres are safe and attractive spaces. Through innovative art installations, messaging that positively reinforce social distancing guidance and by providing more room to walk and cycle we will not only make our towns safer, and more attractive, but also make it easier for people to safely travel to and from work.”