businesses have vowed to fight a fresh bid to introduce pay and display machines at some of Craven’s free council-run car parks.
Craven Council wants to start charging at some of the car parks in Cross Hills, Gargrave and Bentham.
According to a report for councillors, introducing pay and display will improve traffic management in the three village centres and “ensure sustainable parking provision.”
But the plans have been met with strong opposition as critics fear they will have an adverse effect on local traders, businesses and residents.
Alister Witherington, chairman of business group South Craven Together, said the proposals will have a detrimental impact on businesses, residents and the local economy in Cross Hills.
The business owner said: “We are completely opposed to the council’s recommendations because we are a small village. We are not a tourist destination. The car parks are used by local residents. We are opposed to the proposed pay and display parking charges because the loss of trade to businesses will have an adverse effect on the village.
“I think people will not be prepared to pay. They will shop elsewhere. There are plenty of places where people can use supermarkets and park for free. It could be a huge loss to the local economy where we are here. It is going to affect jobs.
“Speaking to our members, many of them have taken on new employees over the last year thinking that things are getting better. A drop in trade would lead to a potential loss in jobs.”
But members of the council’s policy committee will be advised to approve the introduction of pay and display parking systems on council owned car parks at Hall Street and Milligans Field, Cross Hills; North Street, Gargrave and Grasmere Drive, Bentham, when they meet tomorrow.
Paul Ellis, Craven Council’s director of services, said: “Currently the council has a number of free car parks located close to shops that are occupied for lengthy periods by local residents, commuters or ancillary to a business. By introducing pay and display on these car parks turnover can be encouraged helping the vitality of the town centre.
“Charging also assists in covering costs for providing car parking facilities, keeping them in good condition, adding to the overall upkeep of the local area.”
He added: “The charging structure proposed in the report strikes a balance between economic and traffic management objectives by retaining free parking before 10am and after 4pm and proposing a pop and shop scheme to allow local residents to make short visits to the shopping centres.”
The report to councillors says that “if the council is unable to introduce charging on these sites the future viability of retaining them may be in question.”
Officers also wish to introduce a resident permit scheme on West Street Car Park, Gargrave. It is proposed that Lairgill Car Park and Harley Bank Car Park in Bentham remain free.