Parking fee increases to go on hold

PLANS to introduce car parking charges on Ripon’s market square and to increase fees at other sites look set to be postponed.

Harrogate Borough Council was expected to implement the changes next month after a 21-day consultation on the proposals ends on Friday, September 2.

But Coun Richard Cooper, cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development, said he was still waiting for further reports to come through before he makes his final decision and said the proposed changes would be unlikely to take effect in 2011.

He said: “The proposal I’m now looking at is introducing the charges next year.

“In the current economic climate I have no wish to divert traders’ attention from making the most of the Christmas period.”

If implemented, the proposals would see parking on the square charged at 50p for 30 minutes and £1 for an hour, with an hour’s parking at other city centre car parks rising by 10p.

Along with Ripon, car parks in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Pateley Bridge would also see charges increased under the plans.

Coun Cooper said even if prices did increase, they would leave car parking fees in the Harrogate district competitively priced.

“If you compare Harrogate district with Scarborough or York, we are still good value for money,” he said.

The length of time given to comment on the proposals has been criticised by Coun Peter Horton, chairman of Ripon City Council’s planning committee.

“We had to have an emergency meeting on Friday (August 19) to discuss the proposals and get a vote because the way the bank holiday falls we have got a four-week gap between our standard meetings,” said Coun Horton, who said the city council only received notification of the proposals earlier this month.

In the emergency meeting, the planning committee decided it would write to Harrogate Borough Council to urge it to put the proposed fee increases on hold until further consultation had been carried out.

Coun Horton said: “City councillors considered the borough council’s actions to be quite unacceptable and very damaging to struggling shops in the centre of the city.

“Members were united in their decision to send a letter of condemnation to Harrogate and to demand that the new charges be suspended until proper consultation has been carried out.

“Shops are struggling and closing and at the moment you have got that market square with one hour’s free parking which people can use to go to one or two shops.

“If charges are introduced, people might say ‘why should I bother going into town?’.”

• Anyone wishing to make representations or objections against the proposed parking fee increases should send them in writing by September 2 to:

The Director of Resources, Harrogate Borough Council, Council Offices, Crescent Gardens, Harrogate, HG1 2SG.