Keane Duncan harrogate
Keane Duncan in Harrogate

Conservative Mayor Candidate, Keane Duncan: free parking plans looks likes a PR stunt that is backfiring

23 March 2024

Keane Duncan, the Conservative Mayor candidate for York and North Yorkshire has said he will free car parking to every town and city in York and North Yorkshire – the plan would would fund up to two hours free parking.

Although Keane Duncan claims that the changes  would give “much-needed boost for retail and hospitality” research shows that shoppers are driven by the retail offering, and the availability of parking, rather than the cost of parking.

The changes are not fully costed, but would dip into the mayoral funding with the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority.

There are a number of estimates, but a likely cost of the plans would be around £18million.

The Combined Authority will receive Government funding of £18million per year for 30-years, or £540 million in total.

It does smell of a poorly conceived PR-stunt, with the objective of gaining attention. The changes would not be of benefit to retail or hospitality, and would sink the most, if not all, of the mayor yearly budget in one swoop.

Keane Duncan said:

The future of our town and city centres depends on the success of our local businesses, but it’s tough right now.

So to give a much-needed boost to retail and hospitality, I will offer funding for free car parking in every town and city.

Of course, every location works differently, so I’ll work with local businesses to agree a tailored offer for each area, with up to two hours free.

This would be targeted to get maximum business benefit, for example in particular car parks, or at certain times of day when footfall is lowest.

This is a major investment in the vitality of our town and city centres, and it will become a reality if I am elected mayor in May.



Kevin Foster mayor
Kevin Foster is the Green Party Candidate to be Mayor of York and North Yorkshire


Cllr Kevin Foster, Green Party Mayoral candidate said:

The mayor can’t afford to waste public money on unrealistic and un-costed gimmicks which have no lasting beneficial effect.”

Let’s have a quick look at some numbers.

City of York council carparks have 2,143 standard carparking spaces with average fee for a 2 hour session of £5.41.

Funding just one free session per space per day in York would cost £4.2m / year. The total cost in York would be much higher because obviously it wouldn’t just be one session per day that had to be funded.

In North Yorkshire the scheme would wipe out a substantial proportion of the council’s £16.6m annual revenue from parking charges.

The full cost of this proposal is likely to be more than the £18m annual mayoral budget.

The scheme is unaffordable and ill-conceived. In the City of York and larger towns the main impacts of free parking in the urban centres where hospitality and retail business are located would be negative with congestion from increased traffic flow delaying public transport, discouraging active travel, and a degraded experience for residents and visitors alike.

I will support our hospitality and retail business with fully costed and value for money investments in park and ride schemes, public transport improvements, and active travel options which will help increase footfall in our urban centres by making them healthier and more attractive places to visit.


There are 5 candidates, with elections on the 2 May 2024.

  • Keith Tordoff – Independent Candidate
  • Felicity Cunliffe – Lister – Libdems
  • David Skaith – Labour
  • Kevin Foster – Green Party
  • Keane Duncan – Conservative Party
  • Paul Haslam – Independent Candidate







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