A MARKET town is to sacrifice one of its two existing car-parks as part of the drive towards a new 42.5m bypass.

The sale of Bedale's Auction Mart car-park will help fund a now-approved gateway car-park by the bypass on the edge of the town.

The sale was confirmed by the leader of Hambleton District Council, Mark Robson, following a cabinet discussion that took place behind closed doors.

The decision was made despite mounting anger among traders and residents that people are being driven out of the town because of concerns over parking in the centre.

Traders and members of Leeming, Exelby and Newton Parish Council met Bedale Town councillors to raise their concerns. They said parking enforcement was too harsh with even vehicles attending funerals fined, signage woefully inadequate and parking spaces too narrow.

Trader Ray Wrigglesworth said they had had 63 complaints in just a few months. "We stopped counting eventually," he said.

"Bedale is going to die at this rate , children and vulnerable people are being put at risk, fines are being handed out all the time and people are confused. There has been a serious lack of consultation."

Following the meeting of Hambleton cabinet this week Coun Robson confirmed that the development of the new gateway car-park had been approved.

However he added: "I would reiterate that the new car park, to be sited at the North End of Bedale, will only take place if and when the proposed by-pass is delivered."

He said the move involved a capital contribution of 400,000 which showed Hambleton's commitment to enhancing the district's market towns.

But he went on: "This does mean that we would dispose of one of the two existing car parks in the town.

"Following full consultation with ward members it has been agreed that the Auction Mart car park, the lesser-used of the two - often only 25 per cent capacity - will be sold, and the Bridge Street car park will be retained."

However there is local unhappiness at the decision being made behind closed doors.

Bedale resident Ian Watkins said: "I have serious concerns that everything is being done in secrecy. Selling off car parks in the centre of town is going to cause displacement parking for residents on the edge of the disc zone. It's already happening and it's getting worse and worse."