CONCERNS are growing over car parking charges and enforcement after it was revealed that Hambleton District Council made over £550,000 from them last year.

It’s also been revealed that 2,083 parking tickets were issued in Richmond raising £58,897 last year - a rise of 1,200 per cent compared to £4,290 in 2011 when North Yorkshire police were responsible for traffic enforcement.

In Hambleton, residents and traders fear the car parks are being used as a “cash cow” to make money in the face of budget cuts.

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And in Northallerton, shopkeepers have warned that there are already fewer visitors. Next week parking charges are being imposed in the High Street for the first time by North Yorkshire County Council.

Marcus Grover of Grovers Toys said: "Our car parks are now being used less, we have fewer visitors. This is a direct result of people being put off by the inconvenience of pay and display and parking fines.”

Mark Willoughby of Mitchell’s Newsagents, who has been in the town for 30 years, said: "They are making all this money and my concern is they are making Northallerton a place where people don’t want to come. It is also very confusing.

“Takings are down and I believe it is the charges. It is going to be worse when they come in on the High Street.”

Income from the charges was revealed after a freedom of information request by scrutiny group the Armchair Auditors.

Spokesman Ian Watkins said:”They are using these charges as a cash cow, trying to raise money when they should be looking after the residents and using their reserves.”

Richmond student Stewart Peterson discovered the dramatic rise in parking fines after submitting freedom of information requests to Scarborough Borough Council which enforces regulations.

“Residents and businesses in Richmond say they are concerned about the impact of the new parking enforcement measures on the town,” he said.

Antique shop owner Christine Swift, 73, said:”I have already had at least six tickets this year, the new wardens hound people.”

A Scarborough Borough Council spokeswoman said: “The increase is simply down to the introduction of effective control of parking infringements such as abuse of double yellow lines or parking longer than is permitted or has been paid for. It’s essential if we are to maintain the safety of our roads, keep traffic flowing and show respect to those who do park correctly.”

Hambleton District Council is due to issue a statement tomorrow (June3)