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BID PETITIONS AGAINST CONTROVERSIAL PARKING REGIME

Businesses in Northallerton have handed in a petition demanding changes to a controversial parking regime they say is driving trade and customers away.

Northallerton Business Improvement District (BID) is petitioning North Yorkshire County Council to extend High Street free parking to two hours amid serious concerns about declining footfall and empty shops.

A huge majority of traders say the lack of free parking and over-zealous traffic wardens are causing shoppers to desert the High Street.

“This is a loud and clear message from businesses that our High Street is being unfairly discriminated against,” says BID Manager Graham Bell. “There is genuine anger out there.

“Neighbouring towns enjoy up to two hours of free parking, whereas we have just 30 minutes. Shoppers feel rushed and businesses are suffering.

“Like every other town, we are under unprecedented pressure from changing retail habits. We are not prepared to stand back and let our High Street suffer.

“All we want is a level playing field with nearby towns such as Thirsk, Stokesley, Yarm and Bedale, where free parking is much more widely available.”

A new BID survey has revealed that three-quarters of businesses feel restricted free parking on Northallerton High Street has had a negative impact on trade.

Furthermore, 80 per cent feel NYCC’s parking regime, introduced in 2015, has failed in its key objectives to alleviate congestion and improve traffic flow.

The petition challenges NYCC to justify its original claim that the parking regime would improve the local economy, when all evidence points to the contrary.

In the UK as a whole, more than 1,200 shops shut on Britain’s top 500 High Streets in the first half of 2019 alone, with the loss of almost 3,000 jobs per week, in the face of parking pressures and increased online shopping.

Northallerton is also under threat from the new Scotch Corner Designer Village, where it is planned to have 1,300 free parking spaces. Early in 2020, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen pledged to introduce free parking in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Darlington and Redcar town-centre local authority car parks if he is re-elected.

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