Plans to increase Harrogate parking charges sparks anger after Sunday charges approved

Harrogate ticket machine
Harrogate ticket machine

Harrogate motorists are being braced for increases to on-street parking charges, just one month after controversial plans for Sunday parking charges were approved.

North Yorkshire County Council will debate on Friday whether to accept proposals to increase on-street parking tariffs in short stay, inner zone and outer zone areas.

The proposals come following a joint review of the town's parking policy which aims to "incentivize" visitors to use Harrogate Borough Council owned car parks.

In August, residents reacted angrily to the news that the county council would begin charging motorists to park in Harrogate town centre on Sundays from October 1

If the latest charges are approved, officers have suggested delaying these controversial plans to early November to coincide with the implementation of the tariff increase.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire's Executive Member for Highways said that both proposals were being introduced on "traffic management grounds".

He said: “We have not raised on-street tariffs since 2011 and therefore we feel that a rise in tariffs at this stage is not unreasonable.

"There has to be an incentive to use Harrogate Borough Council's car parks because at the moment it is the same price to park on-street as it is off-street.

"Some people may be disappointed by the news but it should not affect every resident. Many people use the buses, walk or cycle into town which is something we encourage.

"However, we have made it easier to pay for these charges because of the new ticket machines we introduced a few weeks ago which include card payment facilities."

Short stay tariffs are set to increase by 10p per 20 minutes with tariffs in the inner and outer zone of the town centre increasing by 10p per 30 minutes.

The plans will see North Yorkshire County Council pocket an extra £100k a year in parking revenue which, Coun Mackenzie explained, will be reinvested in other Highway proposals.

Over the summer, thousands of concerned residents and business signed petitions urging plans for Sunday parking charges to be scrapped, fearing the effect they would have on businesses.

County Councillor David Simister (UKIP, Bilton & Nidd Gorge) also campaigned against the charges and said the county council's latest proposals were "unbelievable".

He said: “This is another attack on motorists wanting to access the town centre and I know it will be greeted with disgust by traders and shoppers alike.

“This is again a revenue generation scheme and demonstrates that democracy in North Yorkshire is dead.

"As local members we have not been informed about these proposed increases. In fact our area meeting at the beginning of the month was cancelled due to there being nothing on the agenda."

However, Coun Mackenzie stressed that there was no evidence to show that "reasonable parking charges" would have a negative impact on town centre economies.

"Our prime purpose is to reduce congestion and make our town centres even more attractive to visitors," Coun Mackenzie explained.

"There are plenty of empty spaces in Harrogate’s off-street car parks currently and a policy that encourages people to use these off-street spaces, which reduces on-street congestion, must be a positive step forward for the business, cultural and recreational life of the town."

As part of the current review, Harrogate would be the only town to see an increase in their on-street parking charges.

However, the county council said review work carried out to date has shown that the differential between the cost of on and off-street parking in some other parts of the county needs to be looked at in more detail.

The county council will subsequently inspect parking charges in Knaresborough, Scarborough town, Whitby and Filey in more detail before reviewing on-street charges in Northallerton.