THE start of the new £20 parking pass for York residents has been criticised by opposition councillors.

The Minster Badge will be available for city taxpayers only but will cost £20 for two years. It replaces the York Residents Discount Parking Permit.

The council have sent information to all homes in the city explaining the scheme, which works by letting council taxpayers “opt in” to get discounted parking through the council website, from July 1 onwards.

The council says the new pass will build on other parking incentives in York, like the free parking periods launched this month.

The old scheme, one of the only free residents’ parking schemes in the country, will be dropped from the end of August. The plan, which was approved at council cabinet in February, has sparked a political row, with opposition politicians calling it wrong to scrap the popular free scheme, while the Labour group says the new scheme will help stop abuse of the passes by people from outside York while the cash raised will help plug a gap in central government funding.

Liberal Democrat Nigel Ayre, who represents Heworth Without, said: “With Labour wasting so much money elsewhere many will wonder why the resource couldn’t be found to continue the scheme, which actually gives something back to York taxpayers. I also wonder what impact more expensive parking will have on businesses in the city-centre still reeling from Labour’s Lendal Bridge debacle.”

Cllr David Levene, Labour’s cabinet member for transport, said: “”The introduction of a modest charge - residents can make their money back in just five evening visits a year - for Minster Badges is necessary to stop abuse by non-residents and make savings made necessary by massive cuts from the Conservative-Lib Dem Government, which local Lib Dems continue to support.”

Savings of £280,000 have to be found in the Parking Services budget alone, he added.

“It’s also ironic that the Lib Dems are now interested in supporting businesses after calling for Labour to ignore businesses’ recommendation for the free parking pilot we have just launched, in order to protect the recent above-average increases in city centre footfall.”

The old York Residents Discount Parking Permit will not be accepted after August 31. Use of the badge from then may incur a penalty.