CONTROVERSIAL parking restrictions in the historic port of Whitby have caused confusion among visitors and may have driven some tourists away, it is claimed.
Restrictions on parking were introduced in June which meant residents in some streets having to pay for permits and visitors being restricted to only two hours’ parking in special ‘clock disc’ zones.
The changes were introduced alongside a new park-and-ride scheme designed to reduce the amount of traffic coming into the town.
Traders were fearful that business could be affected and those concerns have not gone away in the weeks since the changes were brought in.
There is anecdotal evidence that some tourists have been discouraged from visiting the town after being fined for breaking the new parking rules.
Town councillor John Freeman, a watercolour artist who sells his work from studio in Whitby’s Market Place, said that the tourism association had received a handful of letters from angry tourists who had vowed never to return after being hit with a parking fine.
Coun Freeman said the 450 spaces in the park-and-ride car park were a “drop in the ocean” and had little effect on congestion.
Visitors, he said, continued to attempt to find free parking spaces and these are available if you knew where to look.
“People drive past the park-and-ride and chance their arm by driving around Whitby – and then go back to it.”
He said that spaces with two-hour restrictions were “no use whatsoever” to the average visitor.
“People come for the day, or the afternoon – two hours parking isn’t enough.
“The Whitby and District Tourism Association has had letters from people who have had parking fines and said they won’t be coming back to Whitby.”
Despite his concerns about tourism, Coun Freeman said it had been a buoyant year thanks to good weather and an upturn in the economy.
Yesterday North Yorkshire County Council issued a reminder to residents and visitors about the parking rules.
A spokesman said the new restrictions on the marked parking bays don’t apply between the hours of 7pm and 9am.
Drivers who don’t have permits can take advantage of free evening and all night parking, if they arrive at 5pm or after, and display their clock disc in one of the two hour disc bays.
County Councillor Joe Plant said: “This is quite an extensive scheme, and there has been some understandable confusion in the town surrounding some of the new measures.
“Some of the sea front traders have told me that people do not understand whether they can park after the restrictions are finished. It’s important to point out that the restrictions only apply between 9am and 7pm – outside those hours, people can park without a problem.”