A VISION to transform King's Square in York into a continental piazza is being scuppered by motorists using it as a car park, it has been claimed.
Just over a year after £490,000 was spent on the area, traders have complained about parking in the square which was revamped and completely repaved to create more space for street performers, extra seating and better pedestrian access.
The work was done as part of City of York Council’s Reinvigorate York city-centre facelift scheme in November 2013.
But complaints in recent weeks suggest a lack of parking restrictions are encouraging motorists to park in the city centre square, reducing the space available for crowds to gather around entertainers, and upsetting local traders.
Helen Spath, proprietor of Tullivers in King's Square, said she was largely pleased with the revamp, but found the parking situation had worsened, with some drivers reacting unpleasantly when asked to move.
She said: "I think they have made such a big improvement to it and taken a lot of the clutter out so to clutter it back up with cars is a great pity.
"It's a shame. When it's empty and wet it looks utterly beautiful. It had a bit of a darkness about it before, but now it's light and airy, and that's a good thing. But I have seen some tradesman just use it as a car park so that's a bit of a shame."
A City of York Council spokeswoman said no parking fines had been issued in King's Square this year, and many comments had been received about how the new-look square was more pedestrian friendly.
Sir Ron Cooke said King's Square was a shared space, and he had noticed an increase in parked vehicles in the area.
He said many of the vehicles he had noticed displayed disabled parking badges which would allow them to park on yellow lines, but said as there were no road markings in King's Square, it was not appropriate for them to be parked in the open space.
Sir Ron said: "It seems worse in the half term, which negates the point of the open space.
"I am sympathetic to the complaints of traders and street performers because both of those are the primary functions for King's Square, while parking is not."
Neil Ferris, assistant director of City and Environmental Services, said: “Since the improvements were made to King’s Square we’ve heard many positive comments about how it’s much more pedestrian friendly and how this is having a positive affect for retailers, businesses and the many millions of visitors who visit York every year.
“York has one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe. The pedestrian streets, or footstreets - create a safer and more attractive city centre for everyone, whether residents, businesses, shoppers or visitors.
"Whilst vehicles are prohibited from driving within restricted areas during this time, unless they are blue badge holders who can use Goodramgate Kings Sq and Colliergate, it was always the intention to have some disabled parking bays remain in the area following the improvements to King’s Square.
“The council has received no reports about drivers parking inappropriately in this area but of course would be happy to look into this and urges anyone with concerns to contact the council direct."