Campaigners welcome decision to delay Sunday and evening parking charge plans in Harrogate

Campaigners have welcomed the decision to delay plans to introduce on-street parking charges in Harrogate on Sundays and evenings.
Campaigners have welcomed the decision to delay plans to introduce on-street parking charges in Harrogate on Sundays and evenings.
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Campaigners have welcomed a decision to shelve plans to introduce on-street parking charges on Sundays and evenings in Harrogate.

North Yorkshire County Council's executive was due to decide whether to bring in the controversial proposals in the coming weeks.

However, last week the authority announced it was postponing the decision until a full review of both on and off-street parking tariffs in the town has been carried out.

Mike Pywell, who launched a petition against the proposals which attracted more than 2,500 signatures, said: "I absolutely welcome the announcement. It's great news but what I would like to see now is a full review that takes into account a proper strategy on parking and how this can help to encourage growth for businesses in the town.

"I am also hoping the review includes key business owners in the town so they get an opportunity to have an input into making the right decision for the town to move forward.

"I would like to see some innovation in there, which doesn't involve just charging for parking.

"I do believe that we can improve the issue with Sunday parking, as there are some people who leave their cars on a Saturday night and haven't got any motivation to come back and pick it up on a Sunday, but I don't think charging is the answer."

The county council has stressed that the charges were about “better management” of spaces and not about raising revenue.

However, the plans have come under intense criticism, with thousands of people objecting to the proposals since they were first mooted in May.

North Yorkshire County Council says it has listened to local opinion, particularly from businesses.

Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire's executive member for highways, said: “Postponing any decision about on-street charges until all parking charges in the town have been considered and the right balance between on and off street charges has been achieved is the right thing to do at this time.

"Effective management of parking and parking charges in the centre of Harrogate is essential to the town’s economy which remains one of the strongest and most diverse in the county.”

The review will look at how the right balance between on and off-street provision in Harrogate can be achieved, given that charges and timings for off-street evening parking are not uniform in the town.

Coun Mackenzie said: "I have always stated that these new charges were being proposed to encourage regular turnover of premium parking spaces for shoppers and other visitors to our town centre who wish to visit our shops, restaurants, pubs and the many other facilities the town has to offer.

"Good parking policy states that drivers wanting to park for long periods should be encouraged to use off-street car parks and that charges should be lower there than in the premium parking spaces on streets in town centres, which should be kept available for short term parking.

"The current situation on Sundays and in the evenings encourages the opposite: the streets are free and the car parks charge, and that is why, on Sundays especially, the streets are fully parked up with very little movement, whilst the car parks have plenty of space.

"Nevertheless, I welcome the decision to delay changes. We will now have further meaningful meetings with different stakeholders to agree how we can properly manage all parking in the town centre to ensure that the economy of Harrogate remains one of the strongest and most diverse in the country."

Plans to introduce state-of-the -art parking ticket machines, which take both cash and cards, will still go ahead over the next few weeks.