‘Parking charges will damage our community’

The Revd Tim Hurren
The Revd Tim Hurren

Evening and weekend parking charges could have a detrimental impact on the work of church and community groups, a town centre vicar has said.

The Revd Tim Hurren who is the Interim Minister at St Peter’s Church in Harrogate town centre has voiced concerns that the additional charges could impact on the number of people getting involved in church activities.

St Peter’s, which sits on Cambridge Street in the heart of Harrogate Town Centre, has calculated that if members of the choir have to pay the proposed parking charges of a £2 flat rate after 6pm and standard hourly charges on Sundays, the County Council would rake in £5,000 from the singers.

Rev Hurren said: “There is quite a lot of concern to say the least. For community groups here is bound to be an impact and that needs to be recognised.

“It can difficult to encourage people to become involved and additional parking charges will act as a deterrent.”

Rev Hurren, who has been the Interim Minister since the Revd Canon Tony Shepherd retired in May added: “We have a lot of community work going on here, breakfast club for the homeless, AA meetings, choir practise, there is something every day of the week, we cannot provide that service without people being able to park without worry.

“We need to think of the community of the town centre as a whole. All these decisions are taken up a the County Council and I don’t believe they quite understand the town centre dynamic.”

More than 1,500 people have signed an online petition calling on the County Council to drop the proposed charges which would see an end to free parking on Sundays and after 6pm in on street parking bays in the town centre.

North Yorkshire County Council has said the charges would increase the turnover of cars in the town centre, and boost the numbers using off-street parking, making the on-street bays more accessible for the increasing number of Sunday shoppers.

“These proposals are intended to make it easier for visitors to the town to park in what are the most convenient spaces” said Coun Don Mackenzie(Con, Saltergate), North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways. “I wish to stress that the proposals are all about better management of the on-street parking spaces, not about raising revenues. There are benefits for all of us, including town centre businesses, in increasing the availability of parking spaces on the roads.”

Residents can view the online consultation at www.northyorks.gov.uk/harrogateparking until September and the Harrogate Committee of NYCC will discuss the proposals in November.