MANY have complained that York is anti-motorist. Today we know it is precisely the opposite.

York depends on motorists. Without their massive financial contribution, the "pedestrian" city would go bust.

Parking charges brought in £7.5 million in 2004/05, we reveal today. That is more than ten per cent of the £72 million York will raise in council tax this year.

Councillors must balance the books, and they say the parking revenue prevents a further seven per cent rise in council tax bills.

Unhappily, however, little consideration has been given to the potential long-term damage of this quick-fix policy.

True, this is the only money the council gets from outsiders. But visitors are the lifeblood of a tourist city such as York.

Tax them too hard and they will go elsewhere, and much of our prosperity will go with them.

One man from Sheffield, astounded by the Marygate car park charges, wrote to us to say the city might as well put up a sign saying "Don't Visit".

Residents are hit harder still, with everyone from charity workers to voluntary groups seriously affected.

Meanwhile, parking attendants are now employed first and foremost as revenue generators rather than parking regulators.

In their campaign for a fair grant settlement, York councillors were demanding another £7 million from central Government.

They should make a pledge today. If they win that battle, their first move will be to reduce York's punitive parking tax.

Updated: 10:54 Wednesday, April 27, 2005