BENTHAM Town Council is considering taking on the town’s car parks at a peppercorn rent from Craven District Council.

Craven councillors were told that the town was firmly against proposals to charge in its currently free car parks.

Now the town council is looking at the possibility of running the car parks itself and its decision will be reported back to Craven’s decision-making policy committee in January.

Coun Thomas Marshall, mayor of Bentham, said the town was not a tourist destination and the majority of people who used the two car parks in High Bentham and one in Low Bentham were residents or shoppers.

He told Craven’s select committee, if charging was brought in at Grasmere Drive and Cleveland Square, people would just park on the already congested surrounding streets.

“We don’t get the volume of tourists, we are an industrial/agricultural town and charging would just not work,” he said.

He added that the town had recently received £10,000 from the Mary Portas Pilot scheme, which would be used to upgrade the High Street, and parking charges would be a retrograde step.

Coun Marshall said the town council would discuss car parks, but warned that it had already set a high precept to its residents because of repairs to the town hall.

He added in order for the car parks to be run properly, there would need to be a paid worker, as the council could not expect the work to be carried out by volunteers.

Mark Page, chairman of We Are Bentham, added that he believed the district council would struggle to get any real revenue from the car parks, after the installation of pay and display machines.

The scrutinising select committee was told that a petition signed by 700 people had been submitted against any charging proposals.

The committee is currently reviewing all the council’s car parks and will report back to the policy committee, which would decide whether to go ahead and introduce charging at all or some car parks or even dispose of some sites.