A ‘citizens army’ has been recruited to protect motorist from ‘trigger-happy’ traffic wardens.

A battalion of parking buddies has volunteered to take to Skipton High Street to prevent motorists from being fined for parking on the setts.

So far, about 200 people have signed up, joining Skipton businessmen, Roger Newhouse and Jason Miller, in their campaign.

It comes as district and county councillors have also pledged to step in and look at ways of changing the traffic regulation order which prevents motorists using the setts on market days, even when stallholders stay away.

Parking is only allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the setts exclusively for use by traders on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Unlimited parking is allowed on Sundays.

However, dozens of visitors have fallen foul of the rules, unaware that parking on the setts is not allowed on market days, even if several stalls fail to turn up.

But North Yorkshire County Council defended the policy, insisting that it has to be “consistent” in its approach to parking enforcement.

Mr Miller said an appeal on Facebook for people to become parking buddies had attracted almost 200 names within hours of it being posted.

“The parking rules are insane. They’re a great way to wreck a great town.

“It’s driving people into other towns which have better parking facilities. We need to be giving people incentives to come here, not driving them away.

“And, to add insult to injury, the revenue goes into Harrogate’s coffers. While Harrogate gets richer, Skipton gets poorer,” he said.

The Skipton parking buddies will be armed with a leaflet warning about parking on the setts and pointing out where they can park elsewhere in the town.

The leaflet explains: “Although these are pay and display car parks, they are better than picking up a £70 fine.

“The last thing we want is for you to be fined for visiting our town.”

Mr Newhouse said: “We want this mess sorting out before it damages the town even more.

“We want common sense to be applied, for example, if a stall is not set up by 9.30am then the same parking restrictions should apply as on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Likewise if the stalls disappear from the setts early then Tuesday and Thursday regulations should apply for the remainder of the day.”

People wanting to get involved should contact Mr Newhouse on 01756 796164 or via Facebook.Last month, in response to criticism of civil parking enforcement in Skipton, North Yorkshire County Council said it was important that enforcement was carried out in a consistent way.

A spokesman said the Traffic Regulation Order for Skipton Market prohibited all vehicles from parking on the setts on market days.

“There is no scope for local discretion in terms of civil enforcement officers deciding when and where not to enforce restrictions and in any case, this would lead to confusion among motorists.”

The spokesman added at the time that the only exception - which had been agreed with market managers, Skipton Town Council - was that on windy days traders could park next to their stalls to protect them against the weather.

* Harrogate Borough Council would like to clarify that it only enforces parking restrictions in Skipton on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council. Any income from Penalty Charge Notices on the roads in the Craven district is paid to North Yorkshire County Council. Harrogate Borough Council only receive payment for the cost of providing the service, and make no profit from any enforcement activities carried out in Craven district.