A report is to be considered by the Executive at its meeting on 16 August 2016 that recommends approval of the introduction of charges on Sunday between 10am and 6pm in Harrogate.
If the recommendation is approved, the charges would be expected to be in place from 1 October 2016.
The Council has also said that day-time parking charges need to be looked at, something they say they will return to look at. Officers feel consideration still needs to be given to extending daytime charges, but recommend that this proposal is not implemented at the moment.
Proposals for Sunday and evening charges were the subject of a ten-week consultation between July and September last year. However it is unclear what happened during the consultation.
- The original proposals were to introduce Sunday parking charges between 10am and 6pm and extend Monday to Saturday daytime parking charges until 7pm.
In response to issues raised during the consultation, revised proposals were presented to the County Council’s Harrogate Area Committee for consideration in November.
The Area Committee rejected the proposals, but recommended that a further review of on and off-street parking be undertaken in conjunction with Harrogate Borough Council. A decision on the proposals was postponed pending this review. Business leaders spoke unanimously against the introduction of any changes.
The Area Committee do not however have a formal vote on these changes. The decision will be made by the group of 8 people forming the North Yorkshire County Council Executive.
See http://democracy.northyorks.gov.uk/committees.aspx?commid=18&meetid=3301 for further details on the meeting.
The Council say that first stage of a further review is now complete and new evidence for Sundays, which has been published by the County Council at www.northyorks.gov.uk/parkingreview, shows occupancy, to the council’s flawed definition, as being very high – they say that vehicles on Sunday are staying longer than the Monday to Saturday maximum stay period. This should be of no surprise to the Council.
From walking around the Harrogate town centre it is evident that there are available on-street parking spaces on a Sunday.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said:
It is over a year since we published the original proposals and during this time we have made every effort to engage people and listen to what they have to say. I have also attended two meetings of the Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce and received comments at first hand and answered many questions posed by chamber members. In response to the points raised, we have gathered further evidence, which I believe provides a sound justification for the Sunday proposal.
I realise some people believe the Sunday proposal will have a detrimental impact on Harrogate, but I am not aware of any conclusive evidence that reasonable parking charges have a negative impact on town centre economies. In fact, this proposal will make it easier for shoppers and visitors to park close to shops, restaurants and other attractions.
The report captures all the views put forward during the consultation and these will be taken into account by my colleagues when we take the decision.
County Councillor David Simister (UKIP, Bilton & Nidd Gorge) said the news that the executive was being urged to recommend the introduction of Sunday parking charges came as no surprise at all:
Cllr Simister, who runs a town centre business, said:
Both the county council and the district council won’t be satisfied until they have destroyed the economy of Harrogate town centre.
Whilst the county council is penalising people for bringing their cars into town on a Sunday, their borough colleagues are planning to reduce parking spaces and narrow some of the main town centre arterial routes.
Yet again I stress this has never been about freeing up town centre parking spaces, but about raising revenue.
And once this has been brought it won’t be long before an evening parking regime is introduced.
One question yet to be answered is how many people and businesses are actually in favour of Sunday parking charges?
The Executive’s meeting at County Hall, Northallerton, is open to members of the public, who can register to speak at the meeting. The report can be read at www.northyorks.gov.uk
Harrogate Borough Council will benefit with these changes, given they will collect more off-street parking. North Yorkshire County Council will also benefit with money from the on-street ticket machines.
Whilst everyone understands that both the Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council are working in much more challenging financial times, these plans will only act to supress local business and deter visitors.
Focus needs to be put on encouraging and supporting local business, something greatly lacking at the moment. A more vibrant local economy would of course see a knock-on benefit to the councils.
It will be a sad day for Harrogate if these changes are introduced.