BUSINESSES in York have called for a repeat of Saturday’s successful free car-parking initiative and a complete rethink on parking charges.

York thronged with shoppers and tourists on Saturday after City of York Council lifted parking charges in its car parks for 24 hours in a bid to draw more people into the centre. Shops reported greatly increased trade.

Frank Wood, of Braithwaite Jewellers in Goodramgate, said it had been busy with customers all day.

“It has been a tremendous success,” he said. “It’s been absolutely fantastic. I am on City Team York and it will certainly come up on the agenda. We will be talking to the council for a repeat because it has been a success.”

City Team York is a group consisting of retailers, the council and a range of professional and businesses organisations focused on improving the city’s economy.

Mr Wood said the key was good promotion and people who would not normally come into the city knowing about it. He had talked to a couple of people who had used the Park&Ride service because they were unaware they could park for free in the city centre.

He said because it cost the council a lot of money, free parking should be reserved for days when the city would normally be quiet.

Adam Sinclair, of Mulberry Hall, who expects to play a leading role in City Team York, also said the city centre had been very busy and he was expecting official figures to show a “significant rise” in the number of people in the city centre.

“It is clear evidence that we need to restructure parking charges in York to boost the day-time economy, financial economy and the financial and professional services in the city,” he said.

The city centre needed to combat competiton from the internet and out of town shopping centres with free parking, he said.

“It needs to be a very simple car parking structure in York for the modern era.”

He said for free parking to be a success, people in, Doncaster and Middlesbrough, for example, needed to know when the offer was running, so it could not be introduced on an ad-hoc basis.