Council trials of the new smart parking system – which will enable visitors to the town centre to view free parking spots by downloading a free app on their smartphone – are due to start later this month.
Since March, sensors have been installed in on-street and off-street car parks. The sensors will provide live updates through the app, as well as enabling shoppers to pay just for the minutes they are parked, rather than to the nearest hour.
Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council have chipped in a combined Â£90,000 for the project, while partners Visa and AppyParking have contributed more than Â£200,000.
While different parts of the system have been implemented around the country in Westminster, Coventry, Islington and Reading, Harrogate will be the first to have the complete system in place.
While the council is confident of the positive impact of the new technology, not all elements of the Harrogate business community are convinced.
Long-time Harrogate businesswoman and senior partner at Sutcliffe Galleries, Helen Sutcliffe, said she was sceptical about the move and whether it would provide a higher turnover of shoppers.“I can’t see any uses for it all to be honest,” Ms Sutcliffe said.“The current system works perfectly fine. I can’t honestly see how it can benefit anybody.”
However, Harrogate Councillor Phil Ireland talked up the benefits of the ambitious trial.He said those critical of the move were “entitled to their opinions” but “the overall picture is it’s going to be a positive (move)” for Harrogate.“Like everything, no one likes change for change’s sake,” Coun Ireland said.“But we’re going to be leaders in the country with this.”Lachlan Leeming , Local Democracy Reporting Service