COUNCILLORS have called for a rethink over controversial plans to sell off a town centre car park after angry traders and residents warned it would threaten the viability of Bedale.

Hambleton District Council has agreed to build a £400,000 gateway car park on the edge of the town next to a planned new bypass, to bring in tourists and visitors.

But to help fund it they will sell off the existing auction mart car park in the town centre, and objectors packed Bedale Town Council meeting calling for action.

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Mike Darwin, of Darwin’s Auctioneers, said they would be one of the business affected if the car park closed. He warned: “We are one of the oldest businesses in Bedale, but if that car park closes I will have to review staying in the town. It is a struggling town.”

Residents who bought flats from Broadacres Housing Association on the edge of the car park said they relied on it, and losing it would devalue their homes.

Estate Agent Norman Brown wrote to the council saying he had sold the land for the auction mart car park site in 1993, and had reserved two parking spaces along with access rights. He also warned that the site is unstable and subject to sinking sand.

County councillor John Weighell said he was not convinced Hambleton had the legal right to sell the car park.

Hambleton councillor John Noone told the meeting there had been consultation on the issue over the past ten years and there had to be a gateway car park for the bypass to capture tourist and visitor traffic.

He said latest figures showed there was only 25 per cent occupancy of the auction mart car park. The new car park would have space for 100 cars and five coaches

Resident Ian Watkins protested that there had been no consultation on the plan. He added: “There are already serious problems over displacement parking. The poor people who live in Bridge Street will have nowhere to park and there are real issues over people parking outside the disc zones.”

And Brian Cockburn said: “Decisions have been made behind closed doors. It is an absolute disgrace.”

Town councillors agreed to write to Hambleton calling on them to look again at the issue.