Free car parks cost £50,000

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KEEPING car parks free in Pocklington could cost over £50,000 a year, local campaigners are fearing.

Controversial calculations by East Riding Council suggest income generated by charges at the town’s three long-stay car parks, as well as maintenance costs, could soon mount up.

Plans to introduce county-wide pay and display were put on the back burner in February last year following a huge public backlash, but there are growing concerns that the unpopular plan will soon be put into action.

As a result, the Council of Councils Against Car Parking Charges, which includes representatives from Pocklington and other town and parish councils in the region, have inquired about possible lease costs to keep the region’s car parks free to the public.

However, they are frustrated by what they claim is a lack of information from County Hall.

A letter sent by East Riding Council claimed that £47,000 would be the predicted annual income from pay and display machines in Pocklington’s long-stay areas, including the front and rear of the old railway station, and West Green.

Further correspondence in early March gave the maintenance costs for one car park, which they say is more than £2,700.

East Riding Council stressed that it was not an offer to lease the car parks out, but they were simply outlining predicted costs and income.

Local councillors are now eager to schedule a meeting with representatives from County Hall, saying they want a full breakdown for the costs.

Councillor Tony Marron, said: “I’m fairly certain they are trying to bamboozle us with these figures, whether they have been pulled out of thin air or they are using them to scare us off, I just don’t know.

“We really don’t want to take the car parks over, we would rather have them charge free, but why don’t they just come out and tell us how they have calculated these figures?

“When we do send a letter it takes weeks and weeks to get a response, then there’s little explanation.

“Each letter we receive gets more and more complicated and is splattered with facts and figures we have no way of checking.”

Councillor Marron is also angry that East Riding Council persist in writing to individual councils, when the written requests have come from the Council of Councils Against Car Parking Charges.

The group was set up by councillors across the county last summer, all concerned that parking charges were imminent.

He said: “All the towns where East Riding Council intend to inflict car parking charges have come together to fight this imposition and they have refused to recognise us as a group, despite writing to them to ask that they do.

“I’m sure they are trying to wear us down so that we go away.

“We will not go away. We will continue to fight to stop the imposition of car parking charges in our towns because we believe that they will be a disaster for the commercial life of the towns and for the people living in the towns.”

The car park review was launched in early 2009, with the idea that pay and display be rolled out across many of the existing free car parks in the East Riding.

But it sparked huge region-wide protests as thousands of residents, shoppers and shopkeepers, signed petitions and organised marches.

People believe charges would kill off local business, deter visitors and force other drivers into on-street parking.

East Riding Council eventually opted to shelve the idea until there were two consecutive quarters of economic growth.

As Britain slowly recovers from recession, Coun Marron fears the charges could be implemented by early next year.

He added: “We just want a fair hearing, for someone from East Riding to meet the group to explain to us what we need to do to stop this imposition so we can go back to the precept payers and put our case and see if we have their support to stop it. Make no mistake, we will not back down – the fight goes on.”