We've posted before about the Chamber of Trade proposal for better use of Cliffe Street car park.
They've been long and detailed and maybe didn't drive the point home. So here's the short, sharp version.
What's the Problem?
There is nowhere in Dewsbury with flexible parking. Whatever ticket you buy, or whatever free parking you use, it is always time limited with a penalty at the end of it. Fear of the substantial penalty means that shoppers and visitors go elsewhere and businesses have moved out of Dewsbury for this reason.
Dewsbury is the only town in North Kirklees with parking charges and the residents and business owners feel aggrieved by this.
The council says that Cliffe Street car park is surplus to requirements and have scheduled the only large car park they still control for residential development instead of using it for the benefit of the town.
Solution: Make Cliffe Street car park the main gateway for visitors
There will always be people who just need to 'pop into town' for a quick visit who will want to use the on-street or town centre car parking. But let's make Cliffe Street car park the main gateway for visitors who want to stay a while.
Free with no time limits and no penalties.
Every town centre regeneration plan encourages people to stay in the town centre. Until we encourage this behaviour any recovery in Dewsbury is doomed to failure. We need a car park with no fees (like the rest of North Kirklees) and no penalties so our visitors can stay relaxed no matter how long they stay.
Deliver a Welcome
Make sure that all visitors know they are welcome. Place 'Welcome To Dewsbury' signs at all intersections of the ring road with a sign to 'Free Parking'.
Clean Up this corner of town
The car park serves the same purpose it has always served - to be convenient to Dewsbury Market which is only 130m away and a major focus of the regeneration effort. The pedestrianised Foundry Street at the very centre of town is only 200m.
Unfortunately, the surrounding buiildings have long been neglected and need a good deal of TLC - as do the road surfaces.
Park and Ride.
Extend the Free Town Bus route up Sharp Street, through the car park and down Camroyd Street. This will kill off the problem of the hill. Suddenly, the elderly and infirm will find Cliffe Street car parking more attractive than searching for a parking space in the town centre. They can ride the bus if they feel unable to tackle the hill or can walk in down a clear, safe pedestrian route if they prefer.
Create a Quality Pedestrian Route
Create a clear pedestrian route from the car park past the Market and in to the town centre. This may mean that vehicle access in via Sharpe Street becomes one way with vehicles exiting down Camroyde and Battye Street.
Use continuous footway crossings on Battye Street and Crackenedge Lane with pedestrians/mobility scooters and cyclists having priority as used elsewhere in the plans for Dewsbury and in the Waltham Forest Mini Holland project.
This has all been done before - let's use best practice.
Make it Easier for the Disabled
Consider moving the Mobility Centre to Cliffe Street. Once Cliffe Street is easy to find and access and has lots of space then it become the obvious place to transfer from car to mobiility scooter. The wide pedestrian access route has sufficient space to accommodate mobility scooters.
Create A Business Opportunity
For those who still find it too far to walk - is there a business opportunity with trishaws to fill in between Town Buses - and a town centre service for shops using cargo bikes?
See Pedalme and CyclingWithoutAge or various alternatives. They may need electric versions for repeated assaults on the Sharp Street hill - but lets have a look at the numbers and make visiting Dewsbury a fun experience - even for the elderly.
The government is currently throwing money at councils to improve town centres and expand walking and cycling. Surely our council can find some way of making this happen.
No negative impact
We can see no negative impact to this proposal. The council believes the car park is surplus to requirements - and has already stated that the loss of parking revenue is not an issue. So let's maximise the benefit it can deliver for the town.