A plan to charge £10 for sports fans parking at York’s new stadium has become a political football.
We reported last month that York City and Knights fans may be charged a tenner to park at the Monks Cross Park&Ride next door to the stadium on match days.
That has prompted Liberal Democrat councillors for Huntington and New Earswick councillors to launch a petition calling on the council to reverse the decision.
Cllr Cullwick said:
If the parking charges at the Park & Ride increase to £10, this will only result in traffic misery for residents in Huntington.
Fans may well still travel to the Stadium by car regardless of price, but instead, they will choose the streets of Huntington as a cheaper or alternative parking.
‘You voted for it’
But the decision has led one councillor to claim that the Lib Dems voted for the increase they are now campaigning against.
Osbaldwick independent councillor Mark Warters has written to the City of York Council executive saying the increase was included in the budget voted through by the Conservative-Lib Dem ruling coalition.
For the Lib-Dems to be now running a campaign to campaign against an increase in Monks Cross parking charge of 100% that they wholeheartedly voted for only a few days previously means one of two things to me:
(i) Lib-Dem members at budget council hadn’t a clue what they were really voting to approve or
(ii) The ‘campaign’ is sheer hypocritical political opportunism.
Either way both positions are indefensible.
He describes the stadium transport plan as a shambles of the council’s own making. Cllr Warters says that developers Oakgate paid the council £2 million for transport mitigation measures as part of the deal that saw the Vangarde Shopping Centre built.
Cllr Warters writes:
As far as I understand it extra parking spaces were provided (400) but CYC sold off other parking provision leading to a mere net gain in parking provision of 82 spaces – for an 8,000 capacity stadium!
Isn’t it correct to say that they only way this stupidity can be ‘mitigated’ against is by pricing fans out of the 82 parking spaces?
This assertion was backed by former York City Knights chairman John Guildford.
He has written to the Lib Dems involved in the parking campaign, stating:
Both clubs have up to 400 spaces at the park and ride free of charge and is part of the contracts provided by the council, so it up to the clubs to set charges if they so wish.
Referring to the supports of both clubs having to pay £10 is misleading as it’s only the section of the park and ride that the council will have on match days.
Mr Guildford agrees £10 isn’t a fair charge, “but it’s due to the council reducing the parking spaces by selling 50% of the existing parking off to the developer.”
Liberal Democrat statement
On matchdays, it is proposed that Park & Ride parking charges increase from £5 to £10, for those who park and do not use the bus.
Within the Park & Ride site, there are circa 800 parking spaces available. On matchdays, 400 spaces will be for exclusive use of the clubs. These 400 spaces will be operated by the Stadium Operator and not First Buses; therefore, they will not be subject to First York’s car parking charges. The clubs will have the ability to pre-sell these 400 spaces through their ticketing system to fans, for whatever charge they see reasonable and may also use these for season ticket holders. York City have (currently) the higher average attendances at approx. 2,500 fans. Assuming half chose to travel directly by car that would equate to a dedicated space for everyone based on 3 people per vehicle or 2/3 of people based on 2 people per vehicle.
In addition to the dedicated spaces, there are a further 400 spaces that can be used for the Park & Ride and by additional visiting fans – these spaces will currently be subject to the standard park and ride conditions. For those using the bus, this would equate to £3.20 for an adult or cheaper with a smart ticket. If individuals chose not to use the bus at all, then they would incur the higher £10 charge.
The proposed increase is designed to deter users from parking at the Park & Ride and then not using the Park & Ride buses. It is suggested that the £10 charge will deter most people from abusing the Park & Ride for other purposes. However, the Liberal Democrats believe that the £10 charge may not have the desired impact in deterring improper parking on the Park & Ride site or elsewhere in the local area.
For example, many fans will be able to park at the Park & Ride and purchase a bus ticket at roughly £3.20 or cheaper. They will then be able to leave the bus (although shouldn’t!) or travel a short journey, therefore bypassing the £10 charge.
Importantly, the proposed £10 charge may also result in a significant increase of on-street parking and traffic around the streets of Huntington on matchdays. Local Liberal Democrat Councillors for Huntington and New Earswick had previously been assured that a suitable traffic plan would be in place to mitigate the increase of traffic when the stadium is completed and they have been in constant dialogue with the portfolio holder regarding this. The ward Councillors have subsequently raised concerns that the proposed £10 parking charge is only likely to encourage drivers to park in the streets of Huntington, causing misery for local residents.
Liberal Democrat Councillors for Huntington and New Earswick voted in favour of an annual increase of £300,000 to secure all our cities staffed libraries, a further £11 million investment in our road network, an extra £3.9 million for adult social care. As local ward councillors, rather than political grandstanding to the detriment of their ward, they continue to place the needs of residents and the city first. It would be wholly irresponsible for any ward councillor to threaten the overall council budget to make a local point that can be discussed as a matter of policy in the usual way.
It is also very important to note that as the increased charge has not yet come into effect, there would be no impact on the council budget, if the fees and charges were reviewed.
Following the budget agreement, the Huntington and New Earswick Councillors have quite rightly raised the concerns of residents, and they are entirely in their right to campaign for the proposed £10 increase to be reduced and provide further scrutiny on this issue, as this is an extremely important issue for the local residents they represent.