Fears town hall about to end deal to boost charity income

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CONCERNS have been raised about a council’s proposal to end the long-standing agreement to allow a charity to keep half the takings it collects at a Knaresborough car park.

Members of Harrogate Borough Council will meet on Wednesday to decided whether to end the agreement, thought to have been in place for the last 25 years, with the Rotary Club of Knaresborough to collect parking charges on Sundays and Bank Holidays over the summer months in Knaresborough’s Waterside car park.

The proceeds are then split between the council and the charity – but officers are proposing that this agreement is ended and all the proceeds are kept by the local authority to boost coffers.

Last night Coun Christine Willoughby, (Knaresborough East, Lib Dem), a member of the council, said: “I think its an excellent example of local initiative and localism in action. Its good for us and its good for the Rotary Club and I would like to see it stay.”

In a letter to the council’s cabinet Harry Murray, past president of the club says in the last 10 years the arrangement has raised £12,013 for the club, which has been used to benefit local community projects.

Mr Murray also points out that the agreement is beneficial to the council in other ways.

“When Rotary staffs the car park we ensure that the motorists are parked in a way that creates maximum use of the available area. In 2000 when Rotary did not collect, motorists parked on the stoned area only and vehicles could not get through to the grassed area, which is approximately 50 per cent of the available space. This must have created a loss of revenue to the borough council,” he says.

Last year the agreement netted £3,355, with the council receiving £1,677, a report to be considered by members says.

The report warns: “The revenue for Waterside car park from Sundays and Bank Holidays is collected by the Rotary Club and the income is split 50/50 between the club and the council. If we cease the arrangement, the council will retain all the revenue from the car park. It is difficult to justify only allowing the Rotary Club benefitting from the arrangement and officers have been approached to allow other charities to undertake the role and receive the same benefits.

“The service is required to make savings and it is no longer viable to continue to share the parking income with a local charity.”