Council consider parking 'prizes' as incentive for drivers to visit Harrogate town centre

The Victoria Car Park in Harrogate.
The Victoria Car Park in Harrogate.

Harrogate Borough Council is considering offering free car park passes as prizes in a competition-style promotion aimed at addressing alarming shortfalls in car park revenue.

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An extraordinary meeting on November 30 will see cabinet member for sustainable transport Councillor Phil Ireland consider whether to approve the offer of up to five annual Victoria car park season tickets as prizes in support of a parking promotion.

Officers are currently working on a year-long communications plan aimed at promoting council-owned car parks in Harrogate town centre, particularly the Victoria and Jubilee parks where usage has fallen consistently in recent years.

The stark drop in revenue for the town centre’s multi-story parks was highlighted at a scrutiny and overview meeting earlier this month, which found the parks faced a projected shortfall of £282k this year – an increase of £115k from the quarter one report tabled in July.

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Harrogate’s car parks will open for extended hours over the Christmas period in an attempt to support customer traffic and local businesses during late night shopping, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

The promotion will coincide with the extended opening hours.

A risk assessment by council officers acknowledged the promotion may be criticised as it comes at the same time as the council pushes the use of sustainable transport.

However, the report mentions that any additional car traffic as a result of the promotion is expected to be minimal.

“The council is committed to promoting sustainable transport and officers believe that the ‘additional’ car journeys relating to this promotion are very small compared to the overall car journeys undertaken in the town centre,” the report states.

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An annual seven day a week pass for the Victoria car park costs £1512.

Having a pass doesn’t guarantee a parking spot, with council officers confident the addition of five additional passes won’t impact on existing customers at the parks.

Lachlan Leeming , Local Democracy Reporting Service