Calls to introduce disc parking in Harrogate on a Sunday as an alternative to on-street charges have been rebuffed by North Yorkshire’s highways chief.
A final decision on whether the county council should introduce Sunday and evening on-street parking charges in the town centre is expected this month.
The authority 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.
A number of residents and business owners, including Mike Pywell, who launched a petition that has attracted more than 2,500 signatures, have suggested introducing disc parking on Sundays as an alternative.
Mr Pywell said: “Introducing charges on a Sunday is just going to encourage people to go to out of town shopping centres. Where it’s really going to hit Harrogate is Christmas trade. People are going to think why are we going to come into Harrogate and pay for parking and risk getting a ticket when we can go to places like the White Rose Centre or Monks Cross and park for free? It’s absolutely ridiculous to think charging is not going to make any difference.
“A better solution would be to introduce disc parking on a Sunday in the town centre.”
And in a letter to the Harrogate Advertiser, Henry Pankhurst, of St Clements Road, agreed that a disc system would be a better solution.
He said: “Harrogate has the wonderful disc parking system. I notice disc zones of various durations – five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, three hours and four hours. How flexible is that?
“Charging is not needed for ‘traffic management’. Disc parking can do that admirably where necessary. Ticket machines and their maintenance are not needed, thereby saving various costs and even reducing street clutter.
“Why should users of Harrogate town centre be penalised to a far greater extent than other North Yorkshire towns?”
However, Coun Don Mackenzie (Con, Saltergate), North Yorkshire’s executive member for Highways, doesn’t believe it would be viable.
He said: “The problem with that is the charge that it will bring to the taxpayer. There would need to be a lot of parking enforcement officers out there making sure people don’t over stay their time.
“If we introduced it on a Sunday all the existing signage would need to reflect that and it would need to be paid for. We have no income at all to cover that so it would all be at the taxpayers expense.
“We are talking about reasonable parking charges of maybe £1.40 an hour and that is a very small amount of money compared to what people will spend in the shops.
“As for it encouraging people to shop out of town, I don’t see people travelling 20 miles to shopping centres in York or Leeds to save £1.40.”
Last week the Harrogate Advertiser revealed the county council had delayed a final decision on whether to introduce the on-street parking charges.
A report recommending whether the controversial proposals should be taken forward was expected to be made public last week ahead of a decision on Tuesday.
But when it failed to appear on agenda for the authority’s executive committee, it emerged the authority had decided to delay the decision to allow more time to discuss the Local Transport Plan - a major document.
The county council’s plans include introducing parking charges on Sundays, and extending charges from 6pm to 7pm on evenings.
However, the Advertiser understands the authority is likely to shelve its plans to bring in evening charges.