Traders' joy as car park fees postponed at East Riding Council-run sites
PLANS to end free unlimited parking in council-run car parks in the East Riding have been put on the back burner.
Moves to start charging motorists at car parks across the county were initially delayed in early 2010 after more than 20,000 people signed protest petitions opposing the idea.
Many traders in places such as Cottingham, Willerby, Anlaby, Pocklington, Hessle and Hedon claimed introducing charges in car parks where motorists currently park for free would drive shoppers away.
At the time, councillors agreed to postpone any implementation for two years and only then if there has been two successive quarters of national economic growth.
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A positive third quarter figure last year raised the prospect of charges being introduced as early as April.
But the final quarter last year showed the British economy shrank by 0.3 per cent, prompting fears of a triple-dip recession.
East Riding Council leader Stephen Parnaby said: "It does mean we will not be introducing charges anytime soon."
Anlaby butcher Brian Fields, who was one of the leading campaigners against the proposed new charging regime, said: "This is good news for local businesses.
"I don't think the council really understood the damage it was going to do by introducing charges.
"I've just opened a deli and café two doors down, employing more local people.
"Being a local businesses can be very tough at the moment because of the state of the economy but the council doesn't seem to take that into consideration when it puts forward proposals like this."
Cllr Parnaby said the council remained committed to the principle of introducing charges – but only when the time was right.
"It is certainly not going to happen this year. It's not part of our budget estimates," he said.
Under the plans, charges would have been a nominal 20p for the first hour in the first year, rising to 50p after 12 months.
Some of the car parks earmarked for the charges would have had free half-hour parking.
Councillors who backed the new charges claimed they would create a "level playing field" across the East Riding because motorists already had to pay to park in places such as Beverley, Bridlington and Driffield.