An online petition calling on North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) to scrap its evening and weekend parking charge plan has reached almost 2,000 signatures.
Harrogate businessman Mike Pywell has launched the petition, in response to NYCC’s plans to end free evening and weekend parking in the town, announced in May.
NYCC has proposed parking charges on Sundays, and a £2 flat rate charge for after 6pm parking at on-street parking spots. Currently, charges are in place on town centre streets from Monday to Saturday between 8am and 6pm.
Mr Pywell is planning on presenting his petition and discussing his plans with North Yorkshire County Councillors on Thursday, November 19, at the Harrogate area committee meeting.
The businessesman has described the proposed changes as a ‘stealth tax’ and warned Harrogate residents that once the plans are introduced, free parking will be ‘gone forever’.
He said: “I think it’s scandalous and I don’t think the County Council are being honest with us, it’s not going to help Harrogate businesses and it’s not going to do anything for Harrogate’s town centre.
“For too long we have accepted everything that happens but now we as a town need to stand up and protest to say this is unacceptable.
“Harrogate town centre is where we want people to come, it’s extremely hard for businesses as it is to stay in competition. We should not have measures in place to stop people coming in to town.”
NYCC have stressed that the charges were about “better management” of spaces and not about raising revenue .
However, the plans have come under intense criticism from county councillors, Harrogate Chamber of Trade and businesses in the town centre.
UKIP councillor David Simister described the proposal as a ‘kick in the teeth’ for visitors, residents and traders while chief executive of the chamber, Brian Dunsby, said he was concerned about the impact on night-time economy.
Mr Pywell has called on Harrogate residents and business to unite in opposing the plans so NYCC can realise the ‘wave of public opinion’.
He said: “This needs all of us to stand up against it. When you think of Scotland protesting about being ruled by Westminster, this is Harrogate and we are being ruled by Northallerton, it’s scandalous.
“Harrogate is a fantastic place to live, I have lived here for 30 years and I have always told people one of the best things is the disc parking.
“But that has been whittled down so much over the years that it’s just left weekends and now they’re trying to take that away.
Visit www.hgsaysno.com to sign the petition.