It should be noted that Mr Jones has not voiced opposition to Sunday charges.
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has been consulting on the introduction of evening and Sunday on-street parking charges. Now the consultation has ended and NYCC has decided to recommend introduction of both evening and Sunday charges. That recommendation is being brought to NYCC’s Harrogate Area Committee next Thursday.
Once Councillors at the area committee have given their opinion the final decision will be made by a senior council officer in consultation with the County Council Executive Member responsible for highways or by the County Council’s elected Executive.
The County Council conducted a consultation and out of 761 responses on the Sunday charging only 48 people supported the proposal. Out of 756 respondents on the evening charging proposal only 24 indicated support.
Mr Jones commented:
Parking charges cannot be introduced simply to swell council coffers. The law states there has to be a good traffic management reason for their introduction.
On shopping days the rationale is that charges ensure a turnover of spaces giving everyone the opportunity to shop in town. Most people can see the logic of that argument.
The County Council report states that evening charges will ‘increase the likelihood of premium on-street spaces being available for night time visitors to the town.’
I live in Harrogate and, as the area’s Member of Parliament, I attend a great many charity functions and events in the evenings. It is quite obvious that there is very little difficulty finding a parking space on an evening. The rationale that charges will increase the availability of evening spaces is just wrong – there are plenty of spaces available all over town already in the evening. I am astonished that this is the basis the County Council is using for introducing charges.
I know it is sometimes difficult to admit you are wrong or to consider alternative views late in a process but I ask the County Council to take a different view to that put forward by officers in this report. No-one likes paying parking charges but if they are implemented there needs to be acceptance by those paying them that the charges are necessary. I believe that evening visitors to our town, seeing empty on-street spaces all around them, would not come to that view.
Andrew Jones was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Transport in May 2015.