A petition has been launched and has attracted nearly 1,500 signatures opposing plans to introduce parking charges for evenings and Sundays.
The proposals, which were discussed yesterday at the County Area Committee for the Harrogate District, would implement a flat rate parking charge on evenings and brand new charges for Sundays in Harrogate town centre.
This is not about raising money, this is about having more effective parking arrangement and management in Harrogate town centre.NYCC executive member for access Coun Don Mackenzie
Attracting immediate opposition by members of the public, the plans will be published in two weeks and will be discussed again at the Area Committee in September once some consultation responses have been collected.
North Yorkshire executive member for access Coun Don Mackenzie said: “Like taxes, no-one particularly likes parking charges and in an ideal world we wouldn’t have to pay them, but we have to have them to be able to manage our streets especially in the town centre.
“I don’t know, but in September the committee may decide they don’t want any of it and as far as they are concerned they don’t want to see any new charges introduced, that will be up to the members at the time.
“Some opinions were expressed at the meeting yesterday and I know there has been a fair bit of opposition to these proposals on the internet. Nevertheless, elected members will have to decide in September whether or not any of the proposals are beneficial.
“This is not about raising money, this is about having more effective parking arrangement and management in Harrogate town centre.”
Some of the concerns raised by people commenting on the petition include whether the charges will affect businesses in the town.
Coun Mackenzie said, however, that there has to be a turnover to let people park for short spaces of time.
“The reason why traditionally Harrogate has not charged for on-street parking on Sundays is that in those days very few shops opened,” he said.
“That has now changes and that is why the streets are chockablock with cars and we are simply not encouraging people to do their short term parking on the streets. We have got to ensure there is a turnover of parking spaces and that surely is a benefit to businesses.”
Coun Mackenzie also highlighted that residents may be affected by Sunday charges, as would church-goers, but that some arrangement could be made.
“Churches are centre of volunteering as well as worship and I personally value that very highly, so if I thought there was a risk that by introducing charges on a Sunday it would stop people going to church and volunteering I think we could probably reach a special arrangement.
“But I think at the outset without waiting for the consultation to say you don’t want any of the proposals is a disservice to the taxpayers because there are benefits.”
The petition is available at www.change.org/p/north-yorkshire-county-council-abandon-plans-to-charge-for-parking-in-the-evenings-and-sundays