Mums and dads who use a public car park to drop off and pick up their children from school have been told they will need to pay up or park elsewhere after a fine was issued to one parent.
Hawes Primary School has advised that a parent was issued with a parking ticket while briefly stopped in the adjacent district council-owned Gayle Lane car park to collect their child recently.
Parents understood there was an agreement in place that meant they could use the car park to drop off or collect their children from the school or attached Dalesplay nursery without getting a ticket.
This informal agreement was said to have been arranged by the late county and district councillor John Blackie.
However, council bosses have said they can find no record of this agreement — and parents will need to buy a ticket or annual permit at a cost of £125 if they want to use the car park without running the risk of receiving a fine.
This has led to complaints from parents and managers at the nursery.
They say that the car park is the only safe place to drop off young children, with the other option being trying to find a space in the town centre and then walking along the narrow footpath to the school or nursery.
Parent Amy Cockett has written to Richmondshire District Council to highlight the issue, saying she was appalled that parents could no longer use the car parking for drop offs and collections without buying a ticket.
“Hawes is a very rural area, and I am lucky enough to live ten minutes walking distance away from our childcare provider – however, most local parents in this area do not.
“Having Gayle Lane car park available to use when my children were very young, was invaluable when it was bad weather, while making the five minute drop off to Dalesplay.
“This arrangement had been place for many years, an arrangement made between the council and the late John Blackie.
“It is appalling to think about parents who live further afield struggling to find a parking space nearby with young children.
“Have you been in Hawes on a Tuesday morning on market day and found a parking space?”
Dalesplay Childcare said in a statement that it was concerned for the safety of young families who were dropping off and picking up.
They added: “Parents in our rural community travel far to receive this much needed childcare service which was put together by a voluntary group in the community to help support young families to live in the area and offer a much needed service.
“Now they are expected to park down in the busy town and walk up to the setting along very busy roads or pay a large sum for a yearly pass which adds to their ever-growing living expenses.
“Also, young children will need to be carried which is difficult for parents with multiple children and on wet/ snowy days they will come in very cold.”
The nursery points out that free parking spaces in Hawes town centre are very hard to find.
It added: “There are the ‘no parking’ restrictions outside the school and Dalesplay premises which leaves only the Richmondshire District Council car park available as the only safe picking up /dropping off point.”
The company said that in the past, Dalesplay had supported the council by helping to fund a light in the corner of the car park, which helps to make their disabled access visible on dark evenings.
“Surely a little support back isn’t a lot to ask for,” the statement added.
But Colin Dales, corporate director for operations at Richmondshire District Council, said he could not find any record, formal or informal, to suggest any historic arrangement around the suspension of parking charges in the car park was in place.
He added: “Whilst I can understand the problems encountered when dropping off or picking up young children, the council does not make any concession in this respect.
“I am sure you will appreciate that there are a whole host of reasons across the district why local residents would seek certain charging suspensions at certain parts of the day – all of these potential requests would undermine a key income stream for the council and therefore cannot be accommodated.
“If residents or visitors wish to use a car park they will need to purchase a parking ticket or run the risk of receiving a fine.”