NORTON town councillors have said it is vital St Nicholas Street car park remains free.

The council has been consulted on parking in the town as part of a £75,000 car parking strategy for Ryedale, which was commissioned by Ryedale District Council, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), last April.

The aim is to create a comprehensive picture of parking demand at district council-owned car parks in view of the development of a new car parking strategy.

Cllr David Lloyd-Williams said it was vital St Nicholas Street car park remained free.

He said: “Lots of towns charge for car parking and it is having an effect on the high street. We need to retain our free car park for people to shop in Commercial Street and use the swimming pool as well.”

Cllr Ray King, mayor of Norton, said: “As we know many people who live in the area park in the car park overnight.

“If charges were introduced this would result in more vehicles on the streets which are already congested.”

Cllr Bryan Barratt said he was concerned for people using the swimming pool.

“It could lead to parents dropping their children off at the traffic lights for swimming lessons rather than paying to use the car park,” he said.

Cllr Di Keal said she was opposed to any charges.

“I think we have a fight on our hands as I feel there are moves to introduce charges as it is repeatedly highlighted this is the only car park in Ryedale that is free,” she said.

“Commercial Street needs our support and we need to encourage people to use the shops. If it did come to charging I would like to see at least one or two hours free and some deal so people using the swimming pool could get free parking.

“We also have to consider nearby residents. The surrounding streets are full of parked cars as it is.

“We would need to look at some sort of permit system.”

Norton County Cllr Keane Duncan said one of the issues with St Nicholas Street car park was that there was no enforcement.

He said: “Some of the vehicles are left there for days which takes up spaces for local people.

“We need to find a way to free up those spaces and get some sort of control of the car park so people can use the shops and swimming pool.”

Cllr Duncan added: “We also need to look at the overall effect for parking in the rest of the town. The car park review is a good opportunity to try and solve some of the problems once and for all.”