10:55am Thursday 15th November 2012
By Lesley Tate
Charging could be brought in at Skipton’s Craven Pool car park after councillors heard it was being abused by college users.
Students and staff at Craven College operated a system where they swapped parking places to make use of three hours of free parking, councillors heard.
Craven District Council’s select committee was told by its parking manager Shane Reffin that people were trying to avoid paying for an all-day £8 ticket.
He recommended bringing in charging for under three hours, but not for centre users, and also to offer the college, and other businesses in the area, the opportunity to buy all-day permits.
Coun Andy Solloway (Ind), who used to work at the college, said it was common practice for people to work in pairs, with one guarding the space for the other to take it on.
He said staff and students had been forced to look elsewhere for parking because there was not sufficient at the college’s Aireville campus, but that should not mean bona-fide users of the pool, leisure centre and park being inconvenienced.
“The problems that the college has should not be something that Craven District Council should subsidise. I don’t want to see charges introduced for those who are using the leisure facilities, but I do want to stop those who are parking there for longer, fair enough if they are paying for it, but they will have to pay.”
Councillors, who were looking at future management of all its free car parks, ruled out charging at Gargrave, Cross Hills, Bentham, Hellifield and Cononley following opposition from ward councillors and residents at Monday’s meeting.
The committee did, however, recommend inviting Gargrave Parish Council and Bentham Town Council to take over the management of their car parks at a peppercorn rent.
The committee has previously recommended a freeze for a second year on the cost of parking in Craven’s paid-for car parks.
At Bentham, which has car parks, at Grasmere Drive, Cleveland Square, Lairgill and Harley Bank, residents and businesses have signed a 600-name petition against charging.
Coun Linda Brockbank (Cons) said charging would deter shoppers and have a devastating impact on struggling businesses.
At Embsay, Mr Reffin again recommended charging, but with special permits for residents and users of the village hall.
But councillors recommended no change after hearing from residents that it would impact on the new community library and users of the village hall, with one group saying it would reconsider its use of the hall if its members had to pay to park.
At Cross Hills, Mr Reffin recommended charging at both Hall Street and Milligan’s Field. Councillors recommended keeping the status quo.
At Gargrave, which has three car parks, Mr Reffin recommended charging at North Street and West Street, and disposing of the seven-space Water Street site.
Instead, councillors recommended offering the parish council the opportunity to take on the sites.
Committee chairman Coun John Roberts (Cons) reminded members of the public the recommendations would now have to go to the policy committee, on January 22, for a final decision.
A spokeswoman for Craven College said: “The college is working with the council to maximise parking spaces on the Aireville Campus. However, any proposals for significant additional parking would be subject to acquisition of land adjacent to the campus along with planning permission.”
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