DISC parking will not be trialled in Holmfirth.
The controversial plan was axed last Tuesday after it was voted down by councillors at the Holme Valley South area committee.
The three-man Tory panel voted two to one in favour of discontinuing the £70,000 trial after a Kirklees Council consultation scheme report revealed that 69% of those surveyed were against it.
But the Express and Chronicle can exclusively reveal that the statistics on which councillors may have based their decision to shelve the plan are fundamentally flawed and the real result is nearer a fifty-fifty split.
Statistics expert, Paul Carney of market research firm Bonamy Finch, said the consultation report was overly simplified.
He said: “You've basically got yourself a biased, self-selecting sample here. One can argue that because more businesses responded to the survey, and they are more ‘against’ it than the residents are ‘for’ it, that it’s not particularly fair.
“Although 69% of those who responded were against the scheme, if you weight the results to reflect the overall size of the business and residential groups, you get a significantly different number. As the scheme was initially designed to help unlock parking for residents inside the zone and with the local shop owners afraid to trial anything that might affect business, the consultation results needed to be adjusted to reflect that trend.”
Using numbers provided by the Express, Mr Carney calculated that only 53% were against the idea and he revealed that if just 18 more residents living inside the zone had responded and they had all been in favour of the scheme, the overall split would have come down in favour of proceeding..
Chairman of the Holme Valley South Area Committee, Clr Nigel Patrick, who voted in favour of the scheme, said he wasn’t surprised the true split was nearer fifty-fifty. And he accused some business owners of deliberately spreading disinformation about how it would affect them.
“The scheme wasn’t about taking parking away, it would have just changed the way that people parked. At the end of the day if it hadn’t worked I would have put my hands up,” he said.
A Kirklees Council spokesman acknowledged the statistical technique was correct but claimed they did not have sufficient information to use it as a basis for the calculation.
"In addition, this was a relatively small-scale consultation and the aim was to get feedback on the proposals from both residents and businesses in order to inform future decision making, rather than providing a statistically reliable 'result' on which a decision would be based," the spokesman added.
The plan, to implement a disc parking scheme near to many of Holmfirth’s key retail areas, appeared to be on track for an 18-month trial after Kirklees councillors gave it the green-light last year.
But an eleventh-hour show of dissent by business owners and local workers, unhappy at the prospect of having to park further away or move their vehicles at least once a day, has forced a U-turn, despite more than £10,000 already being spent.