Harrogate council defends cost of Appy Parking

Harrogate Borough Council has denied claims its revolutionary new app-based parking system is more expensive than it seems.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 9:11 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 9:14 am
One of Harrogate's popular Appy Parking machines.
One of Harrogate's popular Appy Parking machines.

When it was launched at the end of January, the cash-less smart parking scheme was hailed as not only the first of its kind in the UK but a huge hit with the town’s drivers.

Early figures for the scheme, which was introduced by Harrogate Borough Council in conjunction with North Yorkshire County Council, Visa and AppyParking, a leading smart parking technology firm, show it has struck a chord with drivers.

By the end of March, there had been 90,000 downloads in total, which equates, approximately, to six per cent of all pay and display transactions in Harrogate.

But the Harrogate Advertiser has been approached by motorists concerned that, although the parking fee is meant to be charged pro rata for the actual time parked, there is, in fact, a minimum staying time.Paying electronically also means there is a ‘convenience fee’ of 25p, plus VAT on top of that.

One driver from Pateley Bridge, who had parked for 29 minutes, claimed the end result of parking using the new black sensor balls on the road was that he ended up paying more per hour to park than the ‘old-fashioned’ way.

He said: “I hope that Harrogate Borough Council have no plans to replace the machine payment system, as it remains far cheaper than this brave new parking world that we’ve been sold so enthusiastically.“Unless there’s some radical revision to the way the charges are operated, the vast majority of motorists will opt for a parking machine.”

While sympathetic, a spokeperson for Harrogate Borough Council said Appy Parking had made parking on-street in Harrogate easier and more convenient for people, as well as provide a parking solution that encourages people to visit the town centre.

In addition, the charges were clearly and explicitly advertised on the relevant part of the council’s website.The council spokesperson said: “All Appy Parking sessions are subject to a minimum time/charge which is clearly advertised. “We’ve been clear all along about the minimum stay when using Appy Parking. “It’s typically 30 minutes for on-street parking and one hour in car parks.“That’s why the person who parked for less than 30 minutes was charged for a minimum stay.”

But the driver says he remains unconvinced.He said: "I parked for just under half an hour, and I expected it to have been 70p."The actual charge, however, was far more than advertised. I’d parked from 10.47am to 11.15am, a total of 29 minutes. "I’d been charged 87p parking, plus a ‘convenience fee’ of 25p, plus VAT on the convenience fee of 5p, making a total of £1.17."This means that I was charged at a rate of £2.40 per hour, far in excess of the advertised rate of £1.40."

Figures from Harrogate Borough Council show that the town is averaging about 250 AppyParking sessions per day since the launch.

Appy Parking: How it worksWhile drivers will still be able to pay by the hour at parking payment machines, those with the AppyParking phone app will not have to predict their stay in advance.Instead they can be able to navigate to the space and pay for a parking session with a single-click.Drivers can use the app to navigate to a location with spaces available in real-timeThe session ends automatically and drivers are charged for the exact time you were parked.