Are Ryedale's Car Park Charges too high? : 6 September 2005

I went to see my son in Warwick last week, and had to find a space to park my car. So I called at the Council’s multi-storey car park, and paid their charge for a whole day - 2.80. In Malton, I would have had to pay 4.50.

Now Warwick is a much bigger town than Malton and Norton put together. It is nothing like the size of York, but is a historic city with some very famous tourist attractions, including the castle of the famous kingmaker earl whose support was vital for either side during the Wars of the Roses. It is one of the few intact castles in England which was not destroyed by Oliver Cromwell.

Warwick is also much closer to the nearest regional shopping centre (Coventry) than Malton is to Leeds, and indeed is closer to Coventry than Malton is to York.

So why are the charges in Warwick so much less than Ryedale’s?

My understanding is that the view is taken by Ryedale District Council that, as Ryedale sits snugly between Scarborough and York, Ryedale’s charges should bear some relation to the charges in those towns, and that any other place is too remote for comparison. So Northallerton, Thirsk and Selby are too far away to have any relevance. This view is wrong for several reasons.

Firstly, it is not true that charges are uniformly high throughout the Scarborough Borough, for example. Different charges apply in different places. So the fees charged in the car park at Robin Hood’s Bay, for example, are very high, whereas, if one parks one’s car in the car park at the Brunswick Centre, the charge for two hours is 1.35, and you don’t have to pay until you are ready to leave, when your fee for the actual time your car has been in the car park is precisely calculated. This compares with Ryedale’s fixed two hour fee of 1.85, payable on arrival.

The Brunswick Centre is multi-storey with lifts which descend directly into the shopping precinct, from which there is immediate access to the pedestrianised high street outside.

Secondly, York’s car parking charges were put up last year in order to resolve a serious financial crisis, and are believed to have had a devastating impact on the City and its trade. It made the City Council extremely unpopular with the electorate, and eventually the Council had to make some important concessions.

Thirdly, Ryedale is not in the same commercial league as York or Scarborough, whereas Ryedale is in the same commercial league as Northallerton, Thirsk, Selby, and (perhaps) Warwick.

There is a shopping hierarchy in the world of commerce. There are the National centres such as London. Then there are the regional centres such as Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield. At a lower level there are what is known as “sub-regional centres”, such as York and Scarborough – and at a lower level still, district centres, such as Malton/Norton, Northallerton, Thirsk and Selby.

From a commercial point of view, a Regional Centre like Leeds does not have the same pull or attraction as the national capital. Similarly, a sub-regional centre like York or Scarborough will not have the same pull and attraction as a regional centre like Leeds. Likewise, a district centre like Malton cannot expect to have the same commercial pull or attraction as a sub-regional centre like York or Scarborough. It follows that it makes no commercial sense to expect shoppers in Malton to pay car park charges which reflect those payable in York and Scarborough.

Shoppers come to Malton mainly to buy convenience goods. They will stay an hour or two – not the whole day. There are no tourist attractions to keep them in Malton, and they rarely come to Malton to make special purchases. By contrast, shoppers will go on outings to York or Scarborough for the whole day. So, from a commercial point of view, there can be no realistic comparison between Malton and York and Scarborough – the fact that these two towns are close to Ryedale is totally irrelevant.

There is a reputable professional publication called the Lockwood Report which sets this out. According to the latest Lockwood Survey (published in 2002), as regards major District Centres “poor store performance is linked with low levels of car parking or car parks more than 5 miles from prime shopping streets and charges of over 1-00 for a three hour stay and over 1-50 for a four hour stay”.

The equivalent figures given in the survey for sub-regional centres such as York are 1-75 for a three hour stay and 2-50 for a four hour stay. In the case of Regional Centres like Leeds, the figure is 3-00 for a four hour stay.

Even taking into account inflation since 2002, it is obvious that Ryedale’s charges are well over the top.

Privacy Policy