The reopening of Skipton’s revamped bus station has been put back until the new year – but drivers will be able to use the car park there for free.

North Yorkshire County Council announced earlier this month that the site would be open in time for Christmas.

But now it has decided the opening should be delayed until Monday January 5 to avoid confusion during the busy festive period.

Coun Clare Wood, executive member for passenger transport, said: “We all wanted to make sure that the transition back to the bus station went as smoothly as possible and that means ensuring that we give people plenty of notice and good information. We didn’t want passengers to be left in any difficulties at this busy Christmas period.

“Passengers are familiar with the temporary arrangements that have been in place since the beginning of September and so, after some discussion, we felt it best to become fully operational after the busy holiday period.”

Although the station will not be open for bus passengers, the car park, taxi rank and toilets will be available for use.

Peter Chapman, Craven District Council’s head of leisure and community facilities, said the council was disappointed that the bus station would not be open before Christmas.

But he said the council was pleased that the taxi rank and car park would be open.

“We took the decision to reopen the car park even though the ticket machines will not be in place until the new year.

“We felt that it was important for Skipton to get the car park back in use as soon as possible at this, one of the busiest times of the year, even though we won’t be able to charge.”

He said it was planned that the ticket machines would be in place and working early in the 2009.

The bus station revamp has cost £1.2 million and has been a joint project with Craven District Council, which owns the site.

The new station will feature eight bus stands, improved access through the site, better waiting facilities and new toilets.

Coun Wood said: “This will be a tremendous improvement to travel facilities for the people of Skipton and surrounding communities in the new year.”