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Leeds Cuts Parking Fees, Manchester Ups Them

A tale of two city centres

Published on June 28th 2011.

Leeds Cuts Parking Fees, Manchester Ups Them

SHOPPERS and retailers in Leeds city centre could get some good news if plans to half parking charges get the go ahead. This makes for an interesting Tale of Two Cities, with Manchester set to increase parking charges and introduce Sunday charging.

We hope that adjusting prices like this will increase demand and therefore increase the economic vibrancy of the city.”

The proposals, put forward by Leeds City Council, aim to support hard pressed city centre retailers and businesses by encouraging visitors to come back to shop ‘til they drop.

"We hope that adjusting prices like this will increase demand and therefore increase the economic vibrancy of the city.”

Every year the council reviews parking charges to ensure prices reflect supply and demand. This year, ten new privately owned car parks and a drop in consumer confidence have contributed to a drop in demand.

If the proposals get the go-ahead, the new charges will come into force in July this year. Although some charges for high demand city centre spaces will increase, others will remain the same or be reduced by up to 50 per cent.

Highlights of the Leeds' proposals include:

A pound an hour charge on 900 Saturday spaces - a 50 per cent reduction for shorter stays.

A 50 per cent reduction in a further 275 spaces in Holbeck at only £2.20 for all day.

More flexible times – for example the council now offers two hours at Quarry Hill car park for dance classes at Northern Ballet.

Free parking in evenings and on Sundays will continue.

The move is in stark contrast to plans in Manchester, where councillors are expected to increase city centre parking charges on Wednesday, including the introduction of Sunday charging for the first time. The suprise rationale behind this is not to help ease the damage of central government cuts but to ease traffic flow, kill congestion and give everyone a chance of finding parking.

“These proposals are aimed at striking a balance between tackling congestion in the city centre and encouraging shoppers and visitors to the city to boost businesses and retailers,” said a spokesman for Leeds City Council.

“Rather than just put prices up, we're proposing a significant cut in many prices. Saturday is the main shopping day so we've gone to £1 an hour in 900 central spaces, which is a 50% cut for short stays. We hope that adjusting prices like this will increase demand and therefore increase the economic vibrancy of the city.”

Thanks to Bozo on Flickr for the image.

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40 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Eddy EditorJune 28th 2011.

Didnt Simon Binns just write this same story?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 28th 2011.

Good Lord Eddy. I was changing the backoffice so the rants appear on Manchester as well as Leeds, you got me right in the middle of the transitional moment.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Eddy EditorJune 28th 2011.

Just keepin you on your toes our kid. I do like the sound of being 'caught during a backoffice transitional moment' though.

JSJune 28th 2011.

It's painful Eddy. By the way my review of The Modernist will be up tomorrow as a GSU.

Colonel Frederick LucasJune 28th 2011.

I hope its not a 'U'?

AnonymousJune 28th 2011.

It's hard to understand the idea Manchester is promoting here. Is it that 'We hate cars?' And we hate people who drive cars.

J BakerJune 28th 2011.

Smyth Harper of the Council wrote last week here on a parking charge story that: 'It's a myth that Manchester City Council is anti-motorist. There's ample competitively priced parking in the city centre; pay and display charges compare favourably with other major cities (even after the increases come in).' Well they don't anymore compare favourably with Leeds. So what does he say now.

Karen HandJune 28th 2011.

Wanting the city centre to be easy on congestion and so forth misses the point. Just about every exciting city I've been to has been a nightmare for congestion. It sort of comes from being exciting. Looking at an empty, really empty, Deansgate at 10am in the morning is dismal. I love Manchester and would not move anywhere else, but let's compare like with like when it comes to traffic jams.

PollyJune 28th 2011.

How can Manchester up the charges when Leeds is reducing them. I don't see that the city is doing so much better than across the Pennines.

Struggling city centre businessJune 28th 2011.

Would somebody please tell me this isn't happening in Manc city ctr? We cant have more and more burdens heaped on us.

Colonel Frederick LucasJune 28th 2011.

Jesus wept - get a grip. As i tediously keep pointing out the Arndale carpark is only £3.90 for two hours. Whats this obsession with parking on the street anyway? Laziness? There are few places in the city centre that arent 10 minutes walk from the Arndale and there is even a free bus to shuttle you about if you cant be bothered to walk. I would say that if there are two or three of you travelling it is still cheaper to drive and park in Manchester city centre than it is to use public transport so the motorist hating MCC thing is ridiculous. And when it comes to comparing with Leeds - arent some of you conveniently over looking the fact they are increasing charges on "high demand city centre spaces".
If this is the worse thing people have to complain about in this crazy mixed up world we live in then i really do despair.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 28th 2011.

Couldn't agree more with the above two comments. The average Brit has an aversion to car pooling / sharing - it just does not work, it's a bubble thing. People will be put off coming in to the city, no doubt about it. Manchester is rapidly becoming like every other city and town in the UK -same shops, same cafes, same restaurants - fewer and fewer independents with not even a single butcher, fishmonger or decent deli. Much as everyone moans about it, why wouldn't they go to the Trafford Centre instead? It's the same thing without the parking charges and the rain.

JohnthebriefJune 28th 2011.

I think you may have left it a bit late this time Mark, it looks like it's a done deal

1 Response: Reply To This...
JohnthebriefJune 28th 2011.

Well I think it's a fucking stupid idea so happy to lobby, email whatever.

Best of luck!

AnonymousJune 28th 2011.

Got to agree with the tumbleweed comments, i went into the city centre on a Saturday afternoon for the first time in quite a while and was gobsmacked at how quiet it was.

I also got stung by parking on the MEN Arena car park, there was no event on but ended up paying £10 for 1 hour and 20 minutes. My own fault that didn't look at the small print of the up to 4hrs charge. Am sure i'm not the first person to make that mistake and has probably happened to plenty of visitors. Didn't exactly encourage me to hurry back.

Manchester City Council must be thanking their lucky stars that there's not some giant rival shopping centre just down the road where people can go instead......

Simon SmithJune 28th 2011.

I'll post my comment again as it was deleted for some reason - too pertinent maybe?

According to TomTom, Manchester is the 10th worst city in Europe for traffic congestion. Leeds is not in the worst 50.


Anyone complaining of car parking charges is probably too poor to own a car.

Nicola HughesJune 28th 2011.

This will only be detrimental to city centre based independents. We regularly choose to head to the Trafford centre, even though it's not got a lot on offer compared to town, simply because we can park for free - for as long as we want (i.e we go there all day and spend loads shopping/eating/drinking rather than parking!)

Why is the Trafford centre always busy? Free parking. In fact, the Trafford centre is probably the only place you'd risk not finding a space on a Saturday afternoon.

Use your heads please - reducing congestion's one thing, but people won't stop using their cars, they'll simply just go elsewhere.

JoanJune 28th 2011.

When I lived out of town I avoided car parks in the evening cos I found them scary. I think lots of other women feel the same. A lack of street parking would have put me off visiting the city centre for dining or theatre. Wouldn't have pushed me to the Trafford Centre though. I didn't respond to the council's consultation cos I thought an extension till 7pm was just about passable, given the cuts other people are facing. However an extension to 8pm is an hour too far.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 29th 2011.

As far cuts are concerned, is this not the real reason for the increases? Rather than cut over-inflated salaries for non-jobs for example, the Council use this as a way of scaremongering and telling us all what a big, bad wolf the ConLib coalition is. They tried to tell us all the libraries, day centres and old folks ' homes were going to have to close a couple of months ago - most saw through their cynicism and political point scoring. I'm with JTB, this Council hates motorists - simple

Smyth Harper, Manchester City CouncilJune 29th 2011.

Hello all

We've made an offer to Mancon for Councillor Nigel Murphy, the executive member responsible for parking, to do an interview to answer what's been raised on here as we do appreciate the fact that it's a big issue for people in the city. Over to you to sort the mechanics and timing Mancon.

As he's the boss, I won't go into too much detail here, although a couple of points are probably worth making.

John, we've never said that this is all about congestion. We've said it's about making it easier for people to get on-street for quick trips, encouraging people to use off-street for longer visits, thereby easing congestion, AND the financial element. That's not sophistry, it's honesty.

And Mark, I know you respect us and we certainly respect you but, come on, the city centre is not a retail ghost town. Footfall is measured in the city centre and is reported on monthly by our colleagues at Cityco. This, along with lots of other information about the economic state of the city, is available on the Commission for the New Economy website as part of the Manchester Monitor. The facts are that from January to April, Manchester has seen 3% increase in retail footfall compared to the same period the previous year. By contrast, the UK as a whole has seen a 1.15% drop. However, April saw a drop in footfall (without any changes to on-street parking, incidentally) so it's on our radar. It's also why we like to have big events in the city centre like the football parades and Manchester Day, or specialist markets, as we are acutely aware of the need to ensure that the city centre thrives and these things help get people into the city to spend their hard-earned cash.

Finally, I think with some of you this may be flogging a dead horse, but the council isn't anti-motorist. If it was, this wouldn't be the first on-street parking increase in six years, there wouldn't be such a diverse selection of parking options in the city centre and we wouldn't have 2,500 on-street spaces alone in the city centre at many of which you can park for up to three hours at a cost of £1.35 an hour.

We've got a transport strategy for the city centre which you can read at:


The parking and highways section is pages 41-43.

Hope that's of help, and if Mancon go for having an interview with Cllr Murphy he'll be able to go into this in a bit more depth.

Smyth Harper
Head of News
Manchester City Council

3 Responses: Reply To This...
JohnthebriefJune 29th 2011.

Smyth - do you have a comparison figure for how many on-street spaces there were say, 6 years ago?

It may not be possible to give an accurate comparison seeing as large swathes of the street have gone from being unmarked/single yellow to individual marked bays, so a stretch of kerb that might have accommodated 8 or 9 cars will now only take 5.

Certainly, my own view from living in the city centre for 11 years is that the amount of on-street parking available has been very dramatically reduced.

JohnthebriefJune 30th 2011.

Obviously not. Or else the answer doesn't fit the narrative.

Smyth Harper, Manchester City CouncilJuly 1st 2011.

Not at all, just haven't had the chance to get on the site since yesterday as it's all go at the moment. I was also getting someone to check the figures, but apologies for the delay.

Far from there being a dramatic reduction in on-street parking, there's actually been a dramatic increase. In 1999, 8986m of road were set aside for on-street parking across the city centre. This went up to around 13,700m in 2003 and it has stayed at roughly that level since. That represents an increase of about 50%. There are currently 2,271 pay and display spaces in the city centre. Before this 2003 increase it was around 1,500.

Individual bays maximise the number of cars that can park in the available space.

We've also had a significant increase in off-street parking, including Shudehill car park, the Grand and Spinningfields. As CB points out, there aren't dark corners of the town hall where councillors plot against motorists.

JHUNHGJune 29th 2011.

Smyth. Why is Manchester different from Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham in charging for Sunday street parking?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Smyth Harper, Manchester City CouncilJuly 1st 2011.

Junhg, each city does it in their own way. For example, Newcastle has charged on a Sunday for many years (as I learned to my cost some years ago when I got a ticket!). Similarly Cardiff charges on a Sunday. Birmingham doesn't at the moment, but in the city centre you can only park for two hours, whereas we have three zones, the cheapest of which you can park in for £1.35 an hour for three hours. Which is pretty cheap.

Lisa KenyonJune 30th 2011.

I live in the city centre and I don't own a car but friends and family regularly come to visit me at the weekends and it was always a god send that they could park outside my flat (which isn't even near the shops!!) for free from 6pm Sat and all of Sun. Now they can't park by me basically. 8am until 8pm and £2.70p per hour it's just a joke!!! Half the time I end up paying for friends/family to park outside mine as I feel bad that they can't visit in their cars without it costing them a fortune in crazy on street parking charges and the threat of parking fines (which has happened many a time for being just a few minutes late back to their car!!) or having to pay pretty high NCP charges. It's very unfair to city centre residents and if I'm honest I am seriously considering upping and leaving the city centre as soon as possible now, the cost of living here is just getting ridiculous. Manchester will be losing shoppers, businesses and residents with their greedy parking fees.

AnonymousJune 30th 2011.

Just to say last time I asked I found there were about 20% of City Centre residents who did not have a car parking. It cost me £1600 a year in garaging my car in service charges and interest of the purchase loan which is comparable with contract parking in the nearby car parks.

Also 'live' in London and I am interested in fair comparisons between Manchester City Centre and the London equivalent allowing for area. (say Euston Rd to Southampton Row, Kingsway, the Strand, and westward to Park Lane and back to Euston Road.) This is a mixed usage area with residents shopping and offices. Primark is at Marble Arch. And Gordo yes most people come by public transport!.

Incidentally I 'live' in London 4 miles out in Hampstead (cf Didsbury) in a residential controlled parking zone where I have to pay for parking and for visitors passes and tradespersons working on my premises.

The equivalent to Trafford Centre is Westfield at White City with 4500 parking spaces with the following car park rates. Trafford Centre(10000 +)

Up to 1 hour £2.50
Up to 2 hours £5.00
Up to 3 hours £7.50
Up to 4 hours £10.00
4 - 7 hours £15.00
7 - 10 hours £22.50
10 - 24 hours £30.00

I thought Gordon Mckinnon was threatening to charge for parking at Trafford Centre

Lisa KenyonJune 30th 2011.

I honestly don't think our public transport system is yet good enough to warrant these unfair parking fees and times yet, fair enough if the trams, buses and trains were awesome and reasonably cheap but they aren't and to introduce this now while alternatives are not always a viable and reasonable option is pretty offside. imo. In London the tube network takes away much need for a car and the buses are much better and cheaper with an oyster card. It costs me £1.70 just to get a bus for 1 mile to my friends house here. £1.30 in London will get me right across the city!!!!

AnonymousJune 30th 2011.

Buses are dearer in Manchester but they are privatised. In London they are run by TfL (franchising operators and controlling fares) which is run by the Mayor Boris. The cost is only (by bus) £1.30 per journey if you pay by Oyster card. If you pay by cash it is £2.20. But the real comparison is Oyster Card v TfGM system one card. Oyster (bus only) is capped at £4.00 per day. TfGM's (bus only Card is £4.80 off peak and £5.40 peak. You buy them on the bus.

Many people think TfGM should be organised on the same basis as TfL but there is an impact on Council Tax. (tell that to MB Trafford residents)

Whereas I often use cross city bus travel in Manchester I certainly would take a good book with me in London.

Taxis are dearer but not all that much if you have some companions.

CBJune 30th 2011.

I'm not sure about the arguments for either side are great because the effects from changes like this are very hard to judge and forecast.

What I do know though is that Mark is here implying about high end shopping. To say that people are going to go to Trafford Centre instead is just silly. Trafford Centre can't cater for this high end and its entertainment and food offer simply won't cut it with this market. Where are they going then Mark?

I do feel a little sorry for city centre residents though. I don't think us English are really cut out for city centre living. City centre living is essentially a very European thing to do but we have an American approach to car owning and parking - the two things do not marry well.

"the Council hates motorists" jibe is just laughable really though. Jeremy Clarkson politics. Councillors might be aiming to cut congestion, ensure a good turnover of on street spaces or in this case use parking revenues to balance the books but to think that Councillors are meeting to plot against motorists is just plain silly.

Simon TurnerJune 30th 2011.

Mark Garner claims that due to this increase in the parking levy "the council will be responsible for seeing the closure of at least five restaurants within two hundred meters of the Town Hall". A far bigger factor is that there are too many poor restaurants in the city, and a secondary factor is that for most of us there's a squeeze on spending and eating-out is one of the first things to go. A few extra quid to park a car makes no difference if those two factors are full-on, and they are.

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