Parking charges in Harrogate town centre have come under the spotlight at a meeting between Harrogate BID (Business Improvement District) leaders and senior representatives from North Yorkshire County Council.
BID chairman and interim manager, John Fox, called the summit in response to a survey conducted amongst town centre traders, where 70 per cent of responders said they felt the “high” charges were a concern to their business.
A total of 144 town centre traders took part in the survey and its findings were shared with David Bowe, North Yorkshire County Council’s director of Business and Environmental Services, and David Kirkpatrick, the authority’s senior engineer in charge of traffic management.
However, whilst 100 traders said parking charges were a barrier to business, 65 per cent in the West Park Quarter said it wasn’t for them.
Comments from the traders included:
- “Found a (negative) difference when Sunday parking charges were introduced. Suggest free parking on a weekend – as Leeds have done!”
- “High parking charges do affect the business but have heard good things about the parking app.”
- “Customers complain because the disc parking has been reduced.”
- “Yes, it (parking charges) does affect business. Charging on a Sunday should be abolished and why should church goers have to pay to attend church!”
- “Sunday trade has almost disappeared due to the parking charges. The footfall in the shop has reduced by 40 per cent. Ilkley has no parking charges in December and is flourishing.”
David Kirkpatrick from North Yorkshire County Council said the authority had a statutory duty to reduce congestion and the number and severity of collisions on its highway network, and a significant part in achieving this was by having a robust parking management strategy and operation.
He added that whereas the county council was responsible for on-street parking only, off-street parking came under the remit of respective district councils.
“One of the main strategic approaches for the county council in exercising its duty to reduce congestion through parking management is to firstly encourage off-street parking by making on-street parking more expensive and for a shorter time period.
“On-street parking charges cannot be implemented as a means of raising income for the authority, there must be a traffic management need for it, but it is considered to be an appropriate and effective approach for local authorities to take.
“In total after operational costs, an annual surplus of around £3m is realised in North Yorkshire. In accordance with the Road Traffic Regulation Act, this is reinvested into traffic and transport schemes and services, a significant proportion of which is returned to the benefit of Harrogate,” he said.
John Fox said: “We carried out the survey to get a clear picture of traders’ views on parking charges in the town centre. We have now fed back the survey findings to the officers at the county council responsible for implementing on-street charges, namely Mr Bowe and Mr Kirkpatrick.
“We want to work with both the county and district councils in ensuring that any future changes to parking charges, both on street and off street, will not have a negative impact on Harrogate town centre.
“Our job at the BID is to help build – and sustain – a thriving town centre; one that attracts locals and visitors alike to a vibrant mix of quality shops, bars and restaurants, and both accessibility and affordability play a big part.”
Over the next five years, a levy on qualifying town centre businesses will raise more than £3m which will be re-invested by Harrogate BID into promoting Harrogate’s shops, hotels, bars and restaurants to a world-wide audience.