CAR parks in Selby have been recognised as being among the most safe and secure in the country, as calls have been made to drop parking charges for the Christmas period.

All 11 of Selby’s car parks have once again been granted the Park Mark Safer Parking Award, including the town’s newest car park, at the former Civic Centre in Portholme Road, which has been recognised for the first time.

The award recognises parking facilities with low vehicle-crime rates, and is issued following risk assessments by North Yorkshire Police and the British Parking Association.

Last year, traders welcomed the announcement by the council that parking would be free on a series of Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas, and it was hoped this would happen again this year, in an effort to encourage shoppers to visit the town.

James Dunwell, from the Selby Chamber, said the decision last year had helped to bring shoppers to the town, and he hoped the same would be possible in coming weeks.

Mr Dunwell said: “Anything that helps shoppers get to the town is welcome and obviously we have seen the trade report from the British Retail Consortium that said there was an average of 15 per cent of shops standing empty across the region.

“In Selby, we’re running at about six per cent, so we’re bucking the trend, but we don’t want to slip backwards, so anything that will help get shoppers into town is welcome.”

Richard Schofield, owner of Heaven And Home in Gowthorpe, said traders would welcome free parking in this period, and an extension of the scheme could be beneficial for the council as well.

He said: “We would really be pleased if they did it again this year. It would be a great thing to do.

“It helps us compete with the internet and out-of-town shopping centres which are free so there’s an argument for having parking free all the time.

“They would, in the long run, people would use it all the time, and bring more money into the town.”

A spokeswoman for Selby District Council said a decision whether or not to temporarily drop parking fees had not yet been made, but an announcement was likely within the next week.