The Car Park Fees Debate - Council 10th November 2005 : 17 November 2005

Reproduced courteousy of the Gazette

COUNCILLORS have thrown out an appeal for cheaper car parking in Ryedale, but offered motorists and traders a “Christmas present” of a week’s free parking after 3pm. Members of Ryedale District Council voted in favour of making it free to use any of the authority’s car parks after 3pm from December 17, up to and including Christmas Eve.

The same concession has been made for just three days in previous years, and the estimated loss of income to the council will be 5,000.

Councillor Keith Knaggs, proposing the motion, said it would help to counterbalance a slump in trade. He said: “It’s not a huge amount and we’re doing it in a year when we can well afford it – is that such a bad thing?”

But Councillor John Clark said it was a “strange approach”. He said: “When we have car parks that are full and busy, we’re going to make them free… so there will be a low turnover of people. If that’s what we’re doing to help businesses, then I don’t understand Christmas.”

Councillor Howard Keal agreed, saying the lack of incentive for people to leave the car parks could mean it was “less of a Christmas present and more of a poisoned chalice”.

But the motion was carried 17 to five.

Councillor Paul Andrews then attempted to resolve, in a two-part motion, that the council cut back the charges to last year’s prices.

They were hiked by 25 per cent to cover a 171,000 budget shortfall in April, but finance bosses later found that there was in fact a 261,000 surplus in the council’s revenue account. Some of this went to its Community Investment Fund, and the rest towards flood relief in the Helmsley area.

However, a large portion of that money has been reimbursed by central Government, leaving money in the revenue account to cover the shortfall.

“I believe the council should reconsider decisions they have made, if there has been a change of circumstances, and that it is reasonable to waive standing orders in these circumstances,” said Coun Andrews.

He added: “It’s Christmas – please give the shopkeepers a break. Please give the public a break. Please show that we really do care about local business.”

But the first part of the motion – which called for the council’s standing orders to be changed to facilitate the alteration in price – was defeated 24 to three, curtailing the debate.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Andrews said he was unhappy with how the issue had been dealt with.

“The meeting was appalling,” he said. “The council refused to even debate this issue, and their refusal is an insult to Ryedale shoppers and businesses and to my ward in particular.”

But council chairman Lindsay Burr explained that Coun Andrews didn’t get a chance to debate the car parking issue because his proposal to change the standing order was defeated.

“He chose to speak at length from a prepared statement,” she said. “It is my duty to follow council procedures and to avoid repetitiveness. I have to listen to everybody.”

Privacy Policy