Free parking in Ripon’s market square is to end in less than a month, Harrogate Borough Council has announced.
From September 1, drivers will no longer be able to park for one hour for free in the market square, but will face charges of 50p for 30 minutes, or £1 for one hour.
Coun Richard Cooper, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Economic Development, took the decision at a meeting on Wednesday, July 27.
He said: “The information we have is that free parking in the market square has caused a hazard with cars going round and round looking for a space, and causing congestion.
“The council already has the power to charge for parking in the Market Place but until now has suspended charging.
“The free parking provision was only ever temporary, and now it is coming to an end.”
Fees in car parks across the city are facing hikes, with Marshall Way, Victoria Grove, St Marygate and Arcade car parks all in line for price increases of 10p an hour from September 1.
However, some city businessmen and women are worried about the effect price increases could have on trade.
Retired pharmacist and vice-chairman of Ripon and District Chamber of Trade David Briggs said: “I would think that any price increases are not going to be welcomed by retailers in the city.”
But, Mr Briggs said, he has seen congestion caused by motorists circling the market square looking for a parking space and can understand the logic behind charging for parking in such a central location.
“It’s an absolute gem for the people of Ripon and for visitors, but where else would you get free parking so close to where you want to be?
“And if charges are going up elsewhere we can expect ours to go up as well. At an extra 10p I don’t think we can grumble. If you go to somewhere like Skipton or York you pay an arm and a leg to park.”
The market square scheme is to be reviewed after an initial six months. The county council is concerned that problems could be caused on roads around the city centre if drivers opt to park on unregulated residential streets rather than pay to park on the market square.
Motorists are also to lose free parking on Sunday mornings at St Marygate and Victoria Grove. The free parking was available to help drivers heading to church services.