A NEW parking initiative is being introduced to help make life easier for shoppers.

An idea put forward by the Helmsley in Business group has now been given the go-ahead by Ryedale District Council (RDC) and will mean people can park free of charge for a maximum of 20 minutes in designated bays.

Seven new “quick stop” spaces are now available in the Market Place, two of which are for blue badge holders.

Although drivers will still need to get a ticket from the machine, as long as they stay 20 minutes or less, no payment will be required.

It is hoped the spaces will stop cars parking dangerously and illegally at the end of Borogate and blocking access, or in the side streets around the town centre.

The town team which has achieved this is made up of all relevant local authorities, Helmsley Town Council, North Yorkshire County Council, (NYCC), RDC and the North York Moors National Park as well as the Helmsley in Business Group.

Helmsley is now being used as a model for other towns across the district in the “town team” approach, designed to take action quickly to make multi agency improvements where possible.

Carolyn Frank, chairman of Helmsley in Business and owner of Libby Butler Jewellers, said: “Residents were always telling business owners that the price of parking for an hour was putting them off popping in to a local business, so we began talking to RDC about a solution to help in these situations.

“Hopefully this will free up more spaces in general for parking, as there’ll be a quicker turnaround so it will be easier to find a space without a wait.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our wonderful town, and along with this great new parking initiative, we also welcome the introduction of a community officer for Helmsley by Ryedale District Council, with whom we can discuss issues and ideas for further community improvements.”

It is planned that, before long, the scheme will be extended to cover more spaces north of the Market Place, on land owned by North Yorkshire County Council with the same ticket system.

Carolyn said: “The next major project will be to find and introduce more off street parking to increase capacity in Helmsley. We want to avoid dangerous on street parking, which disrupts residents and causes blockages for emergency services and larger farm vehicles.”