Car parks rise to fund council tax freeze

First published in News

MOTORISTS using council-run car parks in Hambleton district look set to pay up to 50p a day more to help fund a freeze in council tax.

Most of the rises at car parks are likely to be 25 to 33 per cent after members of the council’s Conservative group rejected a controversial proposal to increase charges by around 100 per cent.

Councillors have been asked to peg the district council’s tax demand for the third year running as part of a Government drive to help families struggling with rising household budgets and approve a budget of just over £7m for 2013/14 when they meet on Tuesday.

With the freeze, the district council's element of council tax for a Band D property will be £89.48.

The council’s deputy leader, Ron Kirk, said after receiving a 12 per cent less Government funding and accepting a grant to freeze council tax, it had been agreed to make up the shortfall the authority needed for services by using savings it had made in recent years, the council’s reserves and a modest rise in car parking charges.

Based on forecasts by the Local Government Association which could see a reduction its Government funding drop by 48 per cent by 2020, the council believes in future it will either have to cut services or increase charges for its services.

At a meeting of Thirsk and District Business Association, its chairman Guy Baragwanath said the decision to raise charges by 10p an hour and by 50p for parking all day in the town and in Northallerton had been met with relief by traders who had feared large rises would deter shoppers.

Thirsk councillor Gareth Dadd said: “I think it has been a pretty happy outcome in the end. It is just a shame that we had to go through all the pain.”

However, some traders in Northallerton said they still feared the car parking increases would harm their businesses.

Bettina Bell, retail director of Lewis & Cooper in Northallerton, who threatened to move the leading retailer out of the town if the parking fees doubled, said: "Whilst we're relieved the charges have not doubled, the increases and the charges, are still too high.

“The town is quieter than we have ever known it, customers are feeling the pinch and they will go where there is free parking.

"Is the council trying to promote the town, or drive customers and businesses away?"

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