RYEDALE DISTRICT COUNCIL
MALTON CAR PARKS PILOT AND ANALYSIS
COMMENTS OF THE CAR PARK FEES ACTION GROUP
The Group is a number of interested persons, who are concerned about excessive car park fees in Ryedale District. There is no membership, no subscription, no constitution, no deed of trust and no separate legal persona. Anyone may attend discussions.
We have the following brief comments on the Report to the CS&L meeting of 31st January 2008:
In the light of our comments, we feel this whole issue should be referred to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee.
Reasons supporting decision
a & b Disputed – see below and attached charts.
c. This is disputed. The only free public car parks in Malton that we are aware of are the free on-street spaces in Market Square and Wheelgate (unless one counts the car park at Morrisons for Morrisons customers only and/or the staff and visitors’ car park at Ryedale House.
d. A 20.5% return is extremely good, bearing in mind the importance that the Council attaches to about 200 questionaires returned in regard to the redesign of Malton (the total population being about 4,000. The low rate of return of the questionnaires does NOT indicate that few businesses have a strong opinion of the trial: what it does indicate is a general distrust of filling in forms about their businesses, which might fall into the wrong hands.
e. 80% of people who did respond indicated they felt the trial was effective. The “Feel Good” factor is important. It is difficult for any business to ascertain the reason for an improvement of trade, which could be attributed to more than one reason. However 23% were satisfied that there had been an increase of footfall into their premises. That is an appreciable and significant percentage – we never expected the pilot to solve all Malton’s problems in a single 12 month period.
f and “Background”
This is disputed. See Appendix
Results of Consultation – See above.
Income and Ticket Sales Analysis.
PLEASE NOTE the Pilot does NOT implement the recommendations we made two years ago. Our recommendation was a single charge of £1-50 all day on Wentworth Street, and charges of 50P per hour on the short stay car parks (plus a punitive rates to apply in excess of 2 hours stay on a Short Stay car park). IF THIS HAD BEEN IMPLEMENTED, PEOPLE WANTING TO PARK SHORT STAY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TEMPTED TO PARK ON WENTWORTH STREET CAR PARK.
Incidentally, it is good practice to take cars from the Market Square car park into Wentworth Street, as this ensures that more spaces will always be available for short-stay visitors and shoppers.
A revised Appendix B (attached) has been obtained, and the data on this has been transferred onto the attached charts. These show:
- A massive increase in the use of Wentworth Street – this is evident from the fact that,over the 12 month period, the income received from Wentworth Street under the reduced fee has exceeded the income received under the previous fee structure from the same car park in five out of the 14 months.
- The increased use of Wentworth Street has not resulted in any substantial reduction in use or income of the other Malton car parks.
- The overall trend in terms of income generation from all Malton car parks was upwards throughout the trial period, and by the end of the trial period, the total income received from all Malton Car parks during the two Summer months of July and August (£35607) was greater than the income received in the same two months of the pre-trial period (£3,4408). This shows how right members were to extend the trial over those two summer months of 2007
- There has been a sharp reduction in fee income from Malton car parks since the termination of the Pilot on 17th September. This suggests that either the increased fees have caused shoppers to be less inclined to do their shopping at Malton, or because other factors are at work (eg. the recent financial climate of uncertainty), or a combination of both.
- In either case, Malton traders will require immediate help, and how that help is provided should be the matter of a thorough investigation by Scrutiny Committee, which should include the issue of car park fees
- In view of the fact that income was rising when the Pilot endehe view is taken that the pilot was successful, and would have been even more successful if the Council had adopted the Action Group’s full proposals in the first instance.
“RENAISSENCE MARKET TOWNS PROGRAMME – CAR PARKING RESEARCH” PUBLISHED BY YORKSHIRE FORWARD
The passage quoted by officers in support of the Council’s position is as follows:
“Many people fear that making changes to the way that parking is managed will adversely affect the town’s economy………. However, the limited evidence which does exist suggests that it is the town’s broader retail, commercial, leisure or tourism offer which is the primary factor affecting the town’s competitiveness, not the provision of parking…………..” (Page 6 Column 1)
- Provision of parking is not the same as the cost of car parking;
- Matters that are primary factors affecting the town’s competitiveness includes the leisure or tourism offer – this confirms what the Action Group has always said about Malton/Norton being at a disadvantage compared with Pickering and Helmsley – so that Malton/Norton should be treated differently.
- The document is concerned with car parking management and says very little about charges. The Lockwood Study is referred to, but there is nothing that we could find in the document which is in conflict with Lockwood’s findings. If you think we’re wrong, please show me where the conflict arises.
- We would accept that the viability of a shopping centre depends primarily on the quality and range of the shopping offer, but we can see nothing in the document that negates our view that the cost and availability of car parking is an important secondary factor.
- Our evidence suggests that, if the cost and availability of car parking is not right, this can prejudice the viability of a shopping centre and this is what has happened in Malton and Norton.
- Our evidence comes not only from the experience of local businesses in Malton/Norton, but also from the Lockwood Study
- The document published by Yorkshire Forward confirms the weight that should be attached to the Lockwood Report and supports our case.
- The Lockwood Report categorises shopping centres into Regional, sub-regional and District centres. There is no point in pretending that Malton/Norton are sub-regional shopping centres like York or Scarborough, or a Regional centre like Manchester or Leeds or should have the kind of retail offer that one might expect to find in a regional or sub-regional centre.
- There is nothing in the Yorkshire Forward publication to suggest that a District Shopping Centre like Malton would benefit by the building of more superstores so as to convert the town into an out-of-town centre.
- If more superstores are built in Malton/Norton, the companies concerned will insist on the provision of free car parking, as is their national policy
- Malton/Norton is not suitably located nor does it have the infrastructure to be anything more than a District Centre. It is not close enough to York or Scarborough to be suitable for out-of-town shopping.
- As a District Centre, the shopping offer of Malton/Norton has to focus on the sale of convenience products, as is normal for District Centres.
- According to the Lockwood Study, if Norton is considered to be part of a combined Malton/Norton district centre, it should have a car park situated within five minutes walk of the shops, and its charges should not exceed 50P per hour for the first hour and for subsequent hours, the amounts detailed in the Report.
- The following passages of the Yorkshire Forward Document are relevant to our discussions:
A. “When changes to parking restrictions, charges or enforcement are made, the evidence suggests that the primary responses to that change tend to be:
- An acceptance of the new arrangements (in which case people’s behaviour broadly remains unchanged)
- A change in parking location (people park further away from their destination in an attempt to avoid paying a charge);
- A reduction in the length of stay in order to reduce parking costs.”
(Page 6 Col 2)
In the case of Wentworth Street, the report to Community Services this year did not, of course, cover any of these matters. The Council just has not even tried to take any of these matters into account or to make an accurate survey.
B “However, it is essential that gateway parking is complemented by good signposting to the car park on approach roads, as well as pedestrian signposting from the car park to the town centre itself” (Page 6 Col 2)
This was never done in the case of Wentworth Street.
C.“Footfall, retail performance and parking are related (probably)……………..
Higher parking costs do tend to lead to shorter stays which can affect retail revenue per head……………..”(Page 9 Col 1)
D.“In general terms comparison shopping is thought to be more susceptible to parking controls than convenience shopping and in some case there does appear to be a short-term downturn as a result of introducing charging”(Page 9 Col 2)
E.“The acceptability of charging relates to several factors:
- relative costs (and offer) of competitor towns;
- Availability of free parking elsewhere in the town;
- The status and pull of the town”;(Page 12 col 1)
Please note that this comment is completely consistent with and confirms Lockwood, who defines status of town in terms of whether or not they are a national centre, a regional centre (eg Leeds), a sub-regional centre (eg. York or Scarborough) or a District centre (eg. Malton/Norton or Pickering, and recommends levels o charges which are appropriate to each type of centre.
F. “The following is a list of signs that greater management of parking may not bring benefits:
- When there is no overall shortage of parking spaces;
- Where parking does not appear to be the number one local transport issue;
- The town performs a local role, without a significant rural catchment;
- The town’s economy is weak (for example retail vacancies are high and/or there are few “higher order” shops);
- The town has a nearby competitor with a better retail offer; or
- The town has a nearby competitor with a similar retail offer and free or cheaper parking” (Page 12 Col 2)
The last three bulleted items would clearly include Malton
There are other passages which could be quoted in support of the Action Group’s case.