Harrogate council losing out on £250,000 in car park cash every month during lockdown

Harrogate Borough Council has revealed it is losing around £250,000 a month in car parking revenue during the coronavirus lockdown.

Monday, 4th May 2020, 4:21 pm
Updated Monday, 4th May 2020, 9:00 pm

The authority's ticket takings have plummeted since the end of March when shoppers and commuters stopped using its 28 off-street car parks.

But the parking sites have stayed open and free-of-charge for key workers.

And North Yorkshire County Council went one further when it announced it was suspending on-street parking charges for all motorists.

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Ticket takings have plummeted since the end of March when shoppers and commuters stopped travelling.

These are gestures which we can all get behind in these difficult times - especially when health and care workers need all the support they can get.

But providing free parking is clearly coming at a massive cost to Harrogate Borough Council.

Totting up this lost money with massive maintenance bills, income losses from leisure facilities and other climbing coronavirus costs, it is now facing an £8.5million hole in its finances.

Coun Phil Ireland, cabinet member for sustainable travel, said: “This pandemic was completely unexpected and understandably there will be a loss of revenue through our car parks.

“By suspending parking charges it supports NHS staff, key workers and others to provide essential services, to those that need it the most, during this difficult time.”

The council has only received £1.6million towards its climbing coronavirus costs from central government to date - and any future funds remain an uncertainty.

But council chief executive Wallace Sampson has said there is no “immediate concern” that the council will be short of the cash to fund its frontline services.

Whilst Harrogate's parking income losses are serious, they do not compare with some larger authorities elsewhere in England.

Exeter City Council in Devon has seen its parking income fall by 98.9 per cent and reported losses of more than £1million a month as a result of the pandemic.

For as long as the lockdown continues, councils across the country will have to carry on making up the lost revenue themselves.

They will have to do this without making cuts to the frontline services which are needed now more than ever.

This means some tough decisions lie ahead.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter

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