Parking charges in Harrogate’s town centre will likely be increased to help fund a range of new congestion-busting actions that’ll be implemented in lieu of a relief road, it has been revealed.
North Yorkshire County Council's executive member for transport, Don Mackenzie, said there was "absolutely no question" that a parking review currently being undertaken by the authority would result in car parking fees in Harrogate’s town centre being frozen or removed.
Rather, he said, the fees would likely be increased to help subsidise multiple courses of action to tackle congestion in the town, following the publishing of a survey on Harrogate's traffic issues.
The county council is likely to push ahead with a mixed package of sustainable measures - including improved cycling and walking infrastructure, and potential park and ride sites - while the possibility of a relief road being built near Nidd Gorge will be rejected, in a bid to tackle town centre congestion.
Presenting the results of Harrogate’s congestion study to a meeting of North Yorkshire’s Skipton and Ripon’s councillors, said that increased parking charges should be introduced before those sustainable transport measures were adopted.
“There’s absolutely no question that when the review is complete that we will be removing...or freezing parking charges,” he said.
“My personal view is that after three years of not putting them up, (now is the time) to make reasonable increases in these charges.”
He added that the parking charges would be used to generate the revenue to undertake some of those measures, saying that while it was good that a clear path had been suggested by the congestion survey, "Who's going to pay for (the changes)?"
Earlier, Coun Mackenzie said a wholistic approach to tackling congestion was required as it wasn’t just the population hubs of Harrogate and Knaresborough which would be impacted.
“We do recognise this isn't just a matter for residents of Harrogate and Knaresborough, but for Skipton and Pateley Bridge as well,” he said.
As with Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors a week earlier, committee members were asked to comment on the results of the survey revealed in August, in which 12,000 people - 78 per cent of the total respondents - rejected the idea of a relief road near the Nidd Gorge.
Instead, 77 per cent of respondents endorsed improved cycling and walking infrastructure in the town, with another 75 per cent supported behaviour change among car drivers.
The report will now return to North Yorkshire County Council's executive next month, where a final decision on how to tackle Harrogate's congestion will be made.
Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter