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Harrogate parking row rumbles on

Harrogate parking row rumbles on

Published at 7:00am 1st June 2016. (Updated at 12:46pm 1st June 2016)

There are calls for free disc parking in Harrogate town centre on Sundays. 

A new petition has been launched by campaigners, who are concerned that North Yorkshire County Council is once again preparing to introduce Sunday parking charges.

In two weeks, the online petition has already received over 1,000 signatures.

In November, the council delayed controversial proposals to introduce Sunday and evening charges in order to do more research.

The results of the council's surveys are due back soon and officers are expected to once again recommend Sunday charges.

Mike Pywell, who started this latest petition, said: "We do accept that there's an issue, that people come on a Saturday night and they do leave their cars all day. What we'd like to do is introduce free disc parking. We feel that would bring more people into the town and it wouldn't deter people. It would also not deter or unfairly penalise people attending church services. 

"We've got to drive people to Harrogate. The more people we drive to Harrogate, the more people are going to spend in shops. To say that charges do not deter people coming in is crazy." 

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways at North Yorkshire County Council, says he's waiting for the results of a report from officers who've carried out the research.

He also says that whilst no decisions have been made yet, he understands the surveys have produced a case for Sunday charges.

He added: "There is no proof that reasonable parking costs deter people from coming in to spend their money. In fact, I believe the benefits of having a good turnover of premium parking spaces are greater for the shops than any disincentive there may be."

Responding to the calls for free disc parking on Sundays, Councillor Mackenzie said: "It causes confusion. You have to pay for six days of the week, but on the seventh day, a visitor coming to town has to be sure they understand fully. There are of course the costs involved, such as signage and enforcement, costs that would have to be borne by the taxpayer."

Councillor Mackenzie did confirm there would be no consultation before a decision was made, a move that is being criticised by campaigners.

He said: "There will be not be the sort of formal consultation we carried out last year. Frankly, consultations cost money and we've had a consultation within the last 12 months. Unless the proposals being brought forward are markedly different from what they were before, and I don't think they will be, then there is no need to have a further formal consultation. But there is always the opportunity for people to put forward their views in the time between the report coming out and any decision meeting."

You can find out more about the petition at www.hgsaysyes.com