A DISTRICT council is set to lose almost £100,000 of its income in a bid to bolster a town's economy, following High Street parking charges being introduced by its county counterpart.

In a move that has stunned traders, Hambleton District Council said from October motorists would be able to park for an hour free in the 148 short stay spaces in the Applegarth car park, in Northallerton.

It will continue to charge 60p for the second hour.

The authority's deputy leader, Councillor Peter Wilkinson, said the move was a response to concerns over the cost of car parking in the town.

He said: “There have been more complaints since North Yorkshire County Council introduced charges on the High Street and the suggested loss of trade as a result of this.

"We have decided to act to help redress this situation and hope that this – coupled with free parking Thursdays throughout December in Hambleton District Council’s car parks in the run up to Christmas – will help boost the economy of the town.”

Traders said the free parking move would help counteract the effect of the High Street parking regime, in which motorists have opted for a free 30-minute ticket or pay 80p an hour since June.

The county council's scheme's aims were to ease congestion and boost the town's economy by making short-stay car-parking easier in the High Street, but many traders said it had had an devastating effect on business.

Caz Pring, owner of craft and wool shop Paperlane, in Friarage Street, said she was thrilled by the district authority's move after suffering a 40 per cent drop in takings in the month after the High Street charges were introduced.

She said: "It is absolutely brilliant.

"It is lovely to know that we have been listened to.

"I think if people know this is going to happen in October they will continue shopping in Northallerton, as once shoppers have changed their habits it takes so long to get them back."

A county council spokeswoman said free parking initiative in the Applegarth car park was consistent with its traffic management strategy for the town, which also aimed to make the town centre more attractive to visitors.

She said: "The county council undertook surveys prior to the introduction of the new parking regime on the High Street and has compared these figures with the number of transactions since the new regime was introduced.

"This comparison indicates that the number of vehicles parking on the High Street has actually increased.

"We will continue to monitor usage, but this early analysis suggests that the scheme is achieving its intended aim of making it easier for people to park on the High Street to access shops and businesses.”