Car Park Fees update - 24th March 2009

Car park charges will go through the roof on April 1st.  Ryedale has put a 10% increase on the first hour (£1-00 - £1-10); 11%, on two hour stays in short stay car parks (£1-80 - £2-00), and 19% on two hour stays in long stay car parks (£1-60 - £1-90) – a total cumulative increase of almost 60% since April 2005. This is well above inflation, and beats car park charges in all similar authorities.


How has this come about? Ryedale has decided on a zero-increase council tax. So to balance the books and pay for their top heavy management structure, they decided to increase all Council fees by “not less than 4%”.


It might be useful to consider a brief update.


In April 2006, Ryedale put car park fees up by 25%. There was a huge outcry, and this led to a trial of a £1-50 all day charge in Wentworth Street Car Park. This ran from July 2006 to September 2007. The trial was not evaluated until 31st January 2008. It was reported to the meeting that the trial had failed because the revenue collected during the trial was less than that collected in the previous year.


This conclusion was disputed and eventually the matter was considered by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 27th November 2008. One of the arguments was that as Malton car park revenues were declining before the trial (because the Council was pricing itself out of business), there was evidence to show that the revenue received during the trial exceeded the revenue which would have been received if there had been no trial.


The Scrutiny Committee concluded that, whilst over the period of the trial, the figures showed some decline in overall revenues across all Malton car parks, there was evidence from previous years that there was a trend of declining income: the rate of decline reduced during the trial period, but it was not apparent that this was a result of the trial. So, during the period of the trial, taking all factors into account, it was difficult to argue either way with certainty as to the success of the trial.

So the Scrutiny Committee effectively dismissed the conclusions of the Committee Report of 31st January. The Scrutiny Report was then submitted to Community Services Committee. They duly noted the Report, and then at the same meeting promptly put all charges up again.

I subsequently asked the Chief Executive that, as the Scrutiny Committee had disputed the findings of the 31st January meeting, the Council’s internal audit department should investigate. She refused.

As a consequence of the Council’s intransigence, in May 2009 the FitzWilliam Estate took back their lease of Market Place, Malton, and made it available for two hour free car parking. The Cost to the Estate was given as £100,000 annually, and the yearly loss to the Council is over £50,000.

On July 17th 2009, Jacobs, the Council’s highways consultants, reported on proposals for enhancements to Malton town centre. This included part- pedestrianisation of Market Place and the loss of over 60 free car parking spaces. The report makes it clear that there should be an agreed car parking strategy (including pricing of fees) between all car park operators, and that “without this the benefits of the scheme would be lost.” It is understood that the kind of scheme concerned could involve the Estate reducing the time for free car parking (say from 2 hours to 1) in return for the Council reducing car park fees on Council car parks. The Council has made no attempt to discuss such a strategy with the Estate, but is carrying on regardless with the scheme.

On 26th November 2009 the officers recommended this year’s charges to committee, but noted that since free car parking had been introduced in Malton Market by the Estate, there had been “a downward trend in demand and usage in the Council operated pay and display car parks in Malton”. They therefore recommended against putting charges up in Malton. Regrettably, the Council was not at all bothered about pricing themselves out of business in Malton. All they were concerned about was to ensure that Malton residents should suffer the same as everyone else. This might have been a valid point, if only they had considered bringing charges down instead of putting them up. So the officers’ recommendations were ignored and Malton’s charges will go up with the rest.

This leaves the Council completely and utterly discredited on this issue. It shows just how badly they are being led.


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