A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to attract more shoppers to a North Yorkshire market town by introducing high street car parking charges has been approved.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Hambleton area committee agreed visitors parking in Northallerton High Street must pay 80p an hour after an initial free 30-minute period.

The proposal to improve traffic flows in the town centre by introducing higher charges on the High Street than in off-street car parks generated a wave of fury, particularly among traders, after it was revealed last October.

Leading councillors said more people would be able to access shops than they could with the existing two-hour free parking system and a pollution issue emanating from vehicle fumes would be resolved.

The meeting at County Hall heard traders call on the council to postpone or abandon the plan, with some claiming it would seriously damage the local economy.

Nearly 400 people responded to a consultation over the scheme, with only ten supporting the charges.

Opponents of the scheme included Barkers department store, Bettys tea rooms, Grovers toy shop, grocers Lewis and Cooper, Maxwells electricals and farm and garden suppliers Sam Turners, who said the authority had produced insufficient evidence to support the scheme.

Councillors have dismissed claims the scheme is being established to generate money.

The charges are due to be introduced during the summer.