NEW parking restrictions in Ilkley would be the "death of the area" according to a councillor.

Councillor Jackie Whiteley (Con, Wharfedale) hit out at recently approved plans to introduce residents' parking zones and on street parking charges in the town during a meeting of Bradford Council on Tuesday last week.

The Conservatives had raised a motion at the meeting calling for parking charges across the district to be scrapped.

Discussing the Ilkley charges, Councillor Whiteley said: “The lowest paid workers will be hardest hit. I was talking to a young man who works in Betty’s and he said if he couldn’t find a free space to park then he would stop going to work."

She added: "People working in Ilkley's shops won't be able to get to work because they won't be able to afford to park. A lot of people in the town will go out of business. On your head be it when the town becomes filled with charity shops. This will be the death of the area. It's a great shame you're not listening to businesses."

Cllr Whiteley said businesses in Ilkley were already reeling from increased business rates and high rents and said she was surprised a questionnaire wasn't sent out to every business, making it easier for everyone to have their say.

She went on: "I am amazed at your proposal to introduce resident’s only parking in a vast swathe across the town. It will cost money to go on a walk in Ilkley and perhaps people will think twice about coming and having a cup of tea in the many cafes. The notion of stopping commuter parking is ridiculous when there is no alternative."

She concluded her speech saying: "The Ilkley report is flawed and inconsistent. I strongly urge you to do a re-evaluation of the merits of proceeding with this policy anywhere in the district when business is hard for many reasons. You should also consider the side affects which I have mentioned. It would be a tragedy to lose the vitality that exists in Ilkley and this is one policy you can’t blame the government for."

Councillor Alex Ross Shaw, executive for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said free parking was not the main “driver of footfall” in town and city centres and said it was difficult for shoppers in Ilkley to find a space to park, and the changes would try to solve that.

He added: “There is no such thing as free parking. If charges were scrapped there would be a black hole in our finances of £2 million which would have to be filled by business rate payers. We would also still need to staff these car parks. Free parking won’t attract more people to some areas, because there won’t be any free parking spaces for them.”

Councillor David Green (Lab, Wibsey) said: “I’m responsible for introducing car parking charges in the city centre.

“The aim was to stop people who work in the city centre parking in spaces at 7.30am and clogging up that space until 6pm. This can cause a huge problem for people who need people to be able to park to visit their business. Otherwise you have people parking in spaces 24/7.

“The real thing that will bring people into town and city centres is having an offer that people will wish to go to.”

He pointed out that parking in Bradford was vastly cheaper than parking in neighbouring cities like Leeds.

Labour introduced an amended motion, saying parking charges in Bradford were among the cheapest in the UK, and to focus on the regeneration of the city centre and the district’s towns and villages.