A BODY responsible for conserving a national park as well as promoting it to visitors has been warned against attempting to raise too much money through car parking fees.

A meeting of the North York Moors National Park Authority’s finance committee heard it had been forecast its income from car parking charges would rise from £511,000 in the coming financial year to £651,000 in 2021/22.

Members were told while the national park grant had risen 1.7 per cent year on year from 2015/16 to 2019/20, inflation had increased above the level of the grant, resulting in a real terms cut to funding.

Peter Williams, the authority’s head of finance, told members an increase in car parking charges from April 1 next year would contribute an estimated £75,000 to its budget while it was hoped a car park manager and increased visitors at Sutton Bank would generate a further £65,000.

He said car parks were among the authority’s key assets, and the proposals represented “maximising income in a very fair and reasonable way”, by using space or introducing technology.

Member Ted Sanderson raised concerns that focusing efforts on generating money from car parks could deter visitors.

He said the park authority had generated more income from car parking last year than it had from a combination of planning application fees and it visitor centres.

He questioned whether progress had been made on offering parking season tickets to regular visitors.

Mr Sanderson said: “Are we not in danger of killing the golden goose? People consider where they’re going and availability and cost of car parking absolutely features in their plans.”

The authority’s chief executive Andy Wilson said it had not increased car parking charges during the four years of its current business plan and did not enforce its car parking charges as rigorously as other authorities.

He said: “Our proposal for an increase would keep us pretty much on a par with other national parks. I think compared with other ways of raising money, such as a tourist tax, where we are is really mild. It’s not many local authorities where the chief executive gets letters saying ‘Dear Mr Chief Executive, here’s £20 because you didn’t clamp me’.”