Parking fees to rise to counter shortfall

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CAR parking charges in a Yorkshire district will rise by as much as a third to balance a cash-starved council’s budget which is having to be slashed by hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Hambleton District Council is faced with reducing its existing £8m revenue budget by £400,000 for the forthcoming financial year amid the Government’s austerity drive.

Members this week approved the 2013/14 net budget of £7.6m, with measures including a hike in car parking charges to help balance the books from April 1 next year. The council’s deputy leader, Coun Ron Kirk, stressed it is the first rise in parking fees for four years, but admitted local authorities are faced with “increasingly tough decisions” while setting budgets.

Other fees and charges for planning, licensing and leisure centres are set to rise by an average of three per cent, with cash reserves being used to meet the remainder of the shortfall.

Coun Kirk, who is responsible for overseeing the council’s finances, said: “We are not immune to the economic and financial challenges facing the public sector – we expect to have taken another 48 per cent reduction in grant support from central government by 2020 which means we have to look closely at our revenue streams.

“But we are committed to providing excellent services and our long-term strategy will make sure we can maintain those services during this time.”

Fees for long stay car parks in Northallerton, Thirsk and Stokesley will go up by 50p to £2 per day, while long stay charges in Bedale will rise from 50p to 80p per day. Thirsk market place retains its first hour free system. Short stay fees in Northallerton and Thirsk will rise from 40p to 50p an hour. Short stay charges will be introduced in Stokesley’s Showfield car park of 50p per hour. Overnight lorry parking in Northallerton will go up from £5 to £6.50, but coaching parking in Thirsk remains free.