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Harrogate's electronic parking future

Sensors have been installed across Harrogate town centre since March
Sensors have been installed across Harrogate town centre since March
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A Harrogate-based parking trial will now be opened up across the whole of the town in what will be a first for the country.

The new system, which it’s claimed will make parking cheaper and easier to find, will be available to anyone who downloads a free app and is due to come into operation in November.

Since March, across the town centre, the installation of sensors at on-street parking bays and off-street car parks has been taking place.

The sensors, with embedded blue-tooth technology, will detect if a space is available and update information available to drivers through the app and will also allow people to pay for the minutes they use, rather than to the nearest hour as is the case now. This is known as linear pricing.

In March, Harrogate Borough Council voted to limit the trial, which is a joint operation between the authority, North Yorkshire County Council and AppyParking, to five streets only.

However, the cabinet last week voted to open up the 18-month trial to anyone who downloads the AppyParking app on their phone.

The reason behind this, according to a report that went before the committee, was to “significantly reduce financial risk” to the council from loss of revenue and also to save on costs associated with updating parking machines to calculate the new form of payment.

Coun Phil Ireland said the scheme would be closely monitiored to ensure the council would not lose money from its parking income.

He said: “Linear pricing is not used right across the country but we feel that it is a fairer way to look at parking.

“The process of making the changes to parking bays is continuing, with the cost being met by VISA and the contract is very fluid.

“The trial is for a period of 18 months but it will be monitored and if it looks like it could have a detrimental impact on the council’s finances we can take action.”

While different parts of the system have been implemented in Westminster, Coventry, Islington and Reading, Harrogate will be the first to have the complete parking system in place.

Council documents prepared ahead of the decision to go ahead with the trial in March this year, suggested there would be a reduction in parking overpayments, while AppyParking evidence suggested an increase in parking revenue through the scheme.

There is a cost of £90,000 associated for setting up the scheme, which is split evenly between Harrogate Council and North Yorkshire County Council.