No free parking across Harrogate district this Christmas

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Shoppers will not be offered a 2013 repeat of the day of free parking enjoyed in the run-up to Christmas last year.

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) waived charges for one day in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Pateley Bridge and Ripon in December 2012.

Charges were waived in a bid to encourage more shoppers to the district’s commercial centres.

The authority estimates a repeat would cost £9,000, and, having to deal with cuts in government grants and setting aside £785,000 to help host the 2014 Tour de France, has decided such a move would be a gesture rather than a boost to trade.

A council spokesperson said: “In deciding not to take a formal decision to waive normal charges so as to allow Christmas concessions, Coun Alan Skidmore, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Economic Development took into account the very substantial commitment the council has already made to the district’s business community by setting aside a budget of £785k to support next year’s Tour de France.

“He also had regard to the fact that offering free parking when the car parks are virtually full is more of a gesture than a genuine boost to trade but a gesture that would lose the council some £9k.

“Coupled with that, there is no evidence to suggest that our parking charges (which are lower than those applying in Leeds and York) dissuade Christmas shoppers from visiting the district.”

Businesses were told about the decision at Monday’s meeting of Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

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