Both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council are supporting changes in car parking charges to allow additional on-street parking during an evening and on Sundays.
Both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council are both set to gain significantly from the change.
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) are set to pocket the additional income from the street parking machines and Harrogate Borough Council will see an increase in income from the off-street car parking.
Although NYCC say that money raised will be used for further highways related project, there is no guarantee that it will not simply mean less money being put to highways budgets as it would be additionally supported by this extra revenue.
For Harrogate Borough Council it is simply a further mechanism for raising money further money from parking.
NYCC has published new evidence on its website about Sunday parking patterns as part of a review of on and off-street parking provision in partnership with Harrogate Borough Council.
NYCC say that a 10 week consultation was undertaken between July and September last year on proposals for Sunday and evening charges. We are yet to talk to anyone that has been part of that consultation.
In response to issues raised during the consultation, revised proposals were presented to the County Area Committee for the Harrogate district last November seeking their views. These proposals were to:
- Introduce Sunday parking charges between 10:00 – 18:00
- Extend Monday to Saturday daytime parking charges until 19:00
In February 2016 a decision on the introduction of these proposals was postponed pending a further review of on and off-street parking provision with Harrogate Borough Council.
North Yorkshire County Council then consulted with Harrogate Borough Council over the roll-out of the changes. However they did not engage further with the public or local businesses.
At the recent North Yorkshire County Council area committee Councillor David Simister spoke against the parking. All the Councillors, other than Councillor Richard Cooper remained silent on the issue. The co-opted members present, such as the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce also remained silent on the issue.
North Yorkshire County Council now say that new evidence for Sunday shows:
• Occupancy of the on-street spaces is very high
• Vehicles are staying longer than the Monday to Saturday maximum stay period
• Off-street car parks have capacity to accommodate further users throughout the day
North Yorkshire County Council say that evidence supports the need to encourage those wanting to park for longer stays to use off-street car parks.
Their evidence is failed to be backed by reality as walk around the town centre at the times the survey was undertaken will show a very different story. The Council’s definition of a ‘problem’ also needs to be challenged as it is possible to find parking in the town centre on a Sunday relatively easily.
The NYCC report uses a definition of ‘over occupancy’ with any car staying longer than the maximum parking times on a Saturday or weekday. This can be a vehicle staying longer than 20 minutes on some streets.
No evidence has been presented for additional weekday charges.
Both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council stand to financially gain significantly from these changes and have a vested interest in the changes going through – it will however be at the expense to businesses within the town. Levying further charges will not encourage people to shop in the town.
The voice of the local business is gaining very little attention from those pushing through the changes and are failing to listen to general public and local business in public in what they want.
There has also been political postering from Harrogate Borough Council sitting on the fence pending the outcome of the survey results. It was very telling that the leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Councillor Cooper indicated at the area committee that it was for businesses to justify not having parking changes and that he would pay little attention to any petitions presented.
County Council say that “changes can be achieved by ensuring an appropriate balance between on and off-street charging and specifically that on-street charges are higher than off-street charges”
County Councillor Don Mackenzie said:
This new evidence is very clear. The demand for on-street places on Sunday is very high and motorists appear to be using the congested network to find a free space as close as possible to their intended destination. Motorists are also staying for long periods of time clogging up premium short-stay spaces when there is plenty of room in off-street car parks. It is only right that people are given the opportunity to view this new evidence before the County Council makes a decision on this issue in August.
NYCC evidence can be viewed at http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/parkingreview
The Executive report will be published ahead of the Executive meeting on August 16th 2016
Councillor Rebecca Burnett, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport said:
My initial concern was that there was no evidence of a problem to resolve, but the report and the data collected does demonstrate a traffic management problem on a Sunday which parking charges could help overcome.
It can be difficult to understand the introduction of any new charge, which is why it was important to me that this proposal did not progress without the necessary supporting data.
Now that data has been collected, I believe that even if people do not agree with the outcome, they will understand why it is necessary.
It is clear to me from the report, which now contains evidence to back up the proposals, that Sunday parking charging should support local businesses by generating greater turnover of customers.
This should mirror the situation seen on a Saturday which I understand is the busiest day for most of our local shops. It is also clear that there is plenty of capacity for long-stay parking off-street in our surface level and multi-storey car parks.