Plans to introduce parking charges on Sundays and extend daytime parking rates until 7pm have been shot down by councillors.
Dozens of residents turned out at North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) Harrogate Area Committee meeting last Thursday (November 19) to voice their opposition to the proposals.
North Yorkshire County Council tabled a last minute change to the proposals to charges until 7pm and on Sundays, scrapping the £2 flat rate evening charge the authority had mooted in April 2015.
The changes were not enough to win the support of the committee and 14 councillors voted to oppose the plan to introduce additional parking charges.
The Rev Tim Hurren, interim minister at St Peter’s Church told the committee: “The letters of objection to these proposals outnumber the support by 20 to one. Town centre churches play a very significant role in supporting the needy and are a part of what makes the Harrogate community so strong.
“These proposals should never have seen the light of day and I ask the councillors to use common sense and bury these plans once and for all.”
Jonathon Walker, owner of Gambaru Fitness told the committee the proposals would mean his gym users would have to fork out up to an additional £25 a month for parking and Hannah
Beck from St Peter’s Church said that bell ringers would need to spend £8 a week on parking to attend practices and services.
Businessman Mike Pywell who launched an online petition which has attracted 2,400 signatures spoke at the meeting.
He said: “Moving the time until 7pm doesn’t make sense as that is the hour we want to get people into the town centre after work and the extended charge could stop them.”
Harrogate's MP Andrew Jones has welcomed news of the objection and has called on both NYCC and Harrogate Borough Council to re-examine the strategy on parking charges.
He said: "I want to see both Councils re-examine the whole rationale for charging listening to the views of shoppers and traders.
“We need a mix of on-street and off-street pay parking and free disc parking that works for residents and contributes to the attractiveness of our area for visitors. That means the councils working together for the good of our area.
“I have written to the Leader of North Yorkshire County Council to make my views clear and hope that when the final decision is taken on 8 December that the County Council Executive will choose that collaborative path.
"We need a say in what happens in Harrogate and backing the Area Committee’s proposals would demonstrate a willingness to listen to that local voice.”
Harrogate Borough Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainible Transport Coun Rebecca Burnett (Con, Rossett) said: “The county council shouldn’t be looking at parking in isolation.”
Knaresborough Coun Bill Hoult (Lib Dem) added: “I am disturbed that there isn’t more cooperation between North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council on this.”
Councillors complained that only residents living in the town centre were quizzed on the proposals.
Coun Robert Windass (Con, Boroughbridge) said: “These proposals will penalise rural residents more than Harrogate residents, people living near the town centre can walk or get the bus but in rural areas there are no buses and no other options than to drive and pay to park.”
Harrogate Area Committee chairman, Coun Michael Harrison tabled a motion calling on the county council and borough council to work together on a full parking review in early 2016 before any decisions are made and 14 of the 15 councillors on the committee voted in favour of the motion.
Coun Don Mackenzie (Con, Saltergate) abstained as he will ultimately have a decision making role.