ONE of York's leading developers has warned that York's "ridiculous" parking charges could put an end to the city's revitalisation.

John Reeves, chairman of the Helmsley Group, which has been behind some of York's most prestigious commercial and residential developments, said it was not that long ago that York was an ailing city.

"It has reinvented itself and become a great place once again for a day and night out," he said.

"These ridiculous charges could put an end to all that and there are plenty of other towns in the region who will happily profit at York's expense if given half a chance."

He claimed that one glance at the city centre at night showed that the number of visitors was down. "It's also common sense that those who do visit the city will have less to spend if they are paying say £5 for an evening's car parking. No research and ultimately delay is required to verify these statistics.

"This is undoubtedly detrimental to the economy of York and in the end, its residents."

He warned that irreversible damage could be done to the city's economy unless evening charges were relaxed and daytime charges reduced, as had happened at cities elsewhere.

Meanwhile, readers have continued to indicate that the city centre is losing their custom because of evening charges.

Simon Robinson, of Tockwith, said that until the charges were scrapped, he would continue to use restaurants in Harrogate or Wetherby.

Andrea McQue, of York, said she had altered her plans recently over evenings in the city. "So many struggling businesses will go under because of our greedy council," she warned.

Coun Ann Reid, executive member for planning and transport, said the council's own figures indicated that more cars were coming into the city centre on evenings than before charges came in.

"Parking in city centre car parks and on-street rose in May on the figure for April, and held steady in June," she said.

She added that she hoped people in Mr Reeves' position would work with the council and other organisations such as the chamber of commerce to support the city in efforts to pursue a vibrant economy.

She believed other factors were at work in addition to parking, such as the downturn in tourism. "I hope everybody in York would work together to promote the city in every way."

Updated: 08:50 Friday, July 16, 2004