COUNCIL bosses have answered criticism over soaring income from car parking charges in Hambleton District.

Last year more than £550,000 was raised from charges throughout the area at car parks in Northallerton, Stokelsey, Bedale, Thirsk and Easingwold. Residents and traders were concerned they were being used to raise money for the council in the face of budget cuts by the government.

But a spokesman for Hambleton District Council pointed out North Yorkshire was responsible for on-street car parking and enforcement was carried out by Scarborough Borough Council.

He added: “ Hambleton District Council remains amongst the lowest charging council car parks in the area and the income generated contributes to the management, maintenance and administration of the car parks, as well as significant resurfacing works such as the recent Thirsk Market Place cobbles.

“The closure of the Northallerton divisional offices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Northallerton prison may have impacted in the short term on factors affecting the local economy. We will continue to monitor the situation and have already consulted on a master plan for the redevelopment of central Northallerton.”