The Wentworth Street Car Park Fees "Pilot" should continue    11th July 2007

At a time when the Council’s very existence is in the balance, one might have expected the Council to do everything in its power to get public opinion behind it and avoid unnecessary controversial decisions. Not Ryedale!

Everybody knows that Malton shops are struggling, and that people’s livelihood and jobs are at risk. Most people would agree that the level of parking fees does influence people’s decision on where to do their shopping. As from 18th July last year, there has been a 12 months “pilot” of reduced fees at Wentworth Street Car Park. One might therefore have expected the Pilot to be evaluated over the whole period of 12 months, for local businesses to be consulted on that evaluation, and for no change to be made until after the evaluation.

Instead, a four page report was produced this month, evaluating the “pilot” over a period of 10 (not 12) months and recommending that it be terminated at the end of last month. It was stated that this would augment the Council’s income by between £3,828 - £9,888 per annum.

The main drift of the argument is that, as demand for parking tickets was down by 1.57%, the “pilot” had failed. Now it is possible to interpret figures and statistics in many ways, and 1.57% is insignificant in the world of statistics. I have long argued that, if prices are reduced, demand and revenue would increase. Well, if the number of tickets has not increased, the length of time that people stay in Wentworth Street has, as anyone who is familiar with the car park will confirm. So, in terms of usage, the demand for Malton car parks has grown – but regrettably the officers have not investigated how long people stay there. If they have made no such investigation, they have insufficient evidence to show that there has been no increase in “demand”.

As regards revenue, we are told that the ending of the pilot could augment revenue by as little as £3,828. In financial terms in this context, this amount would be called “peanuts”. Clearly, if more people shop in Malton, there will be more car parking revenue. Malton businesses are making a determined effort to sell the town, and should be given the chance to do so.

When it was pointed out during the debate that the Committee had no lawful delegated power to terminate the Pilot before 17th July, they decided, by a majority of 5 votes to 3 (with one abstention), to recommend the Council to terminate the “Pilot” on 17th July (instead of the end of last month), and to evaluate it afterwards. In the meantime, the new considerably increased charges would apply from 18th July. One is reminded of films about the Wild West, where cowboys could see nothing wrong in shooting first and asking questions afterwards.

In other words, here we have a brief four page surprise report, brought in indecent haste before the figures for a full 12 month evaluation are available, without any suggestion of consulting the businesses which might be affected, and without any information on increase of car park usage as a result of people staying longer in town. This is bad, but it is outrageous that local businesses should be put at risk for an increase in Council revenue which could be as little as £4,000.  

Let us hope wiser counsel prevails at the Council meeting of 12th July. If the newly elected Council expects the support of public opinion against the County Council’s takeover bid, they will have to do better than this


Privacy Policy