BENTHAM Town Council is considering taking over 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 free car parks.

Now the town council is looking at the possibility of running the 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 car parks in High Bentham and one in Low Bentham were residents or shoppers.

He told Craven’s select committee that if charging was brought in people would just park on the already congested streets.

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

The town recently received £10,000 from the Mary Portas Pilot scheme, which would be used to upgrade the High Street, and he felt parking charges would be a backwards step.

Coun Marshall said the town council would discuss car parks but warned that it had already set a high precept to residents because of repairs to the town hall.  And in order for them to be run properly, there would need to be a paid worker.

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

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

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