Harrogate Borough Council to back town centre Sunday parking charges

An on-street parking machine in Harrogate.
An on-street parking machine in Harrogate.

Harrogate Borough Council has thrown its weight behind proposals to introduce Sunday parking charges in Harrogate town centre.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive postponed a decision on the charges in November until a “full review” of and off street parking within the town was conducted.

In June, the county council presented its evidence from parking surveys which showed occupancy of spaces across town centre streets on Sunday was “very high”.

County councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for Highways, said his initial view was that the evidence confirmed Sunday charges would encourage better turnover of premium spaces.

Coun Rebecca Burnett, HBC’s cabinet member for Planning and Sustainable Transport agreed with Coun Mackenzie, adding charges were a “sensible conclusion” to draw from the evidence.

She said: “My concern in November was that there was a proposal from the county council and there seemed to be no reason or evidence for it.

“But we’ve now seen the data and I think there is a problem. It does seem that parking charges could play a role in terms of traffic management.”

Campaigners against the proposal, including county councillors David Simister and Bill Hoult, have argued that the charges would deter shoppers from visiting the town centre.

Coun Hoult said: “Whether you think Brexit is good or not the decision to leave the European Union has thrown the UK economy into a period of high uncertainty in the short to medium term.

“Harrogate District is not immune to that and anything that has a potential to damage trade is just plain stupid. This is a time for caution not more taxation.”

However, Coun Burnett argued that the charges had the potential to support local businesses and encourage people to use more sustainable transport.

She also dismissed the campaign to introduce free disc parking in town as it would mean tax payers, not motorists, would pay more.

She said: “People are not put off coming in to town on a Saturday because there are parking charges. Sunday is not the day it used to be and it is now very comparable to Saturday.

“People don’t shop on a Sunday because they can park for free, it’s because they either need to or want to. There needs to be more incentive to use other means of transport. Parking charges do that so for me it’s the right option.

“The money the county council make from parking charges is also reinvested in the services we use, including sustainable transport, improvement to Kex Gill and a Harrogate relief road.”