Council defends car park charges rise
Last updated Mar 27, 2024
Station Parade Car Park

North Yorkshire Council leader Carl Les has defended a move to introduce inflation-busting charges at car parks.

Cllr Les said the 20 per cent increase in car parking charges from April 19 was “not just about raising money”, but also about traffic management.

The authority, which has repeatedly introduced the maximum permitted rise in council tax without having to hold a referendum, says the car parking charge rise is needed so it avoids diverting funds away from vital frontline council services.

The council has also stated it is investing in automated payment systems and the installation of electric vehicle chargers. It added more funding is needed to cover the cost of providing parking facilities, including infrastructure, repairs, lighting, and security has risen.

Car parking fees have been frozen in some areas for more than a decade and most car parking charges have remained the same for at least three years.

On that basis, the council says, the increase it is introducing is “broadly aligned with inflation”.

Opposition councillors have claimed the rise will create confusion, particularly in towns where there are different tariffs at council run car parks. In Scarborough, charges at council-run car parks range from free to £2.20 an hour.

Critics have also highlighted the cost of car parking in town centres compared to out of town retail parks, such as the extensive one being developed at Scotch Corner.

Leader of the authority’s Labour group, Cllr Steve Shaw Wright, said while some towns had free publicly owned car parks, people were facing mounting charges from the council to park in neighbouring towns.

He said:

“It’s like a lot of things North Yorkshire Council is trying to harmonise services across the county – there’s a lot more problems than they thought.

“They are milking the easiest target, which is car parking. However, they need to monitor it because in places like Selby there is only a parking warden one day a week, and it’s usually the same day.”

However, Cllr Les said alongside the car parking charges rise, a review of car parking charges across the county was needed.

He said it would be possible to harmonise the principles behind what drivers in North Yorkshire are charged.

Cllr Les said:

“Car parking charging policy remains the prerogative of the council where car parks exist, but the mayor can introduce special measures to waive car parking charges for up to a year, as long as he or she pays for that out of his or her mayoral pot.

“Car parking charges are not just about raising money, they are also about traffic management. If there was free parking in town centres all day people would park up at 8am and the car would be there at 5pm.

“There is a lot of discussion to be had about the merits of car parking charges, the reasons behind it and how the money is spent. We raise the money as a council, but must spend it in certain ways, to do with the traffic management and flows.”

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