TRADERS have hit out at proposals to charge for parking at two car parks in Cross Hills.

In August, Craven District Council had been expected to approve charging a tariff for parking at Milligan's Field and Hall Street car parks, but the decision was deferred to give the council's select committee time to further scrutinise the plans.

In a report to the council's policy committee, charges for the 70-space short stay Milligan's Field, which is partially owned by the Co-op, would be 20p or 30 minutes stay, 70p for up to an hour and £1.70 for up to two hours.

Tariffs for the smaller 27-space Hall Street car park, which would be used for short and long stays, would be £1.70 for up to two hours £2.80 for up to four hours and £3.60 for over four hours.

The proposed charges would run from 10am to 4pm, seven days per week and could potentially earn the council £10,496 per annum.

Although the council did take into account maintenance costs, Alister Witherington, chairman of South Craven Together, believes the ongoing bill could be considerably less.

And Mr Witherington says, with the expected reduction in car park usage due to pay and display, he anticipates trade could drop by 10 per cent for the 50-plus businesses in Cross Hills, resulting in a loss of £500,000 to traders in the area.

"The council is expected to give good value for money, but this is a bit short-minded if it is at the sacrifice of £500,000 to businesses in Cross Hills.

"For the small amount of money they're going to make off this, it doesn't outweigh the significant impact on the local economy," he said. "People believe it would kill the village."

Mr Witherington, who opened Aire Valley Kitchens and Bathrooms at 18 Main Street three years ago, said a 10 per cent reduction in trade would have a negative impact on newer businesses just starting up.

"Any drop in turnover would have a dramatic effect, making the area a less desirable place to introduce a local business.

"You'll risk ruining a community," added Mr Witherington. "Most business owners live locally themselves and a lot of people come to live in the area because it's a nice place.

"We've had 14 new businesses in Cross Hills in the past two years," he said. "We've literally got a small success story that is in a delicate stage."

Cross Hills butcher Ian Hall said: "We're concerned if they impose car parking charges it will force people to go elsewhere."

"Main Street has got a very good vibe about it at the minute,. We have a good community spirit and we feel like that could disappear."

Mr Hall's shop, New Laithe Farm Butchers at 49 Main Street, opened in September 2009.

"Five years ago, I could have had a choice of premises to open, but now all the shops on Main Street are full.

"We fought long and hard to get it like that and we don't want to lose it."