Sixth form students expected to help pay for new £500,000 car park at New College Pontefract
Sixth formers will be asked to help fund a new £500,000 car park at their own college, it's been revealed.
New College Pontefract wants to build a permanent space for cars and coaches dropping off students, having used adjacent land belonging to Pontefract Park for the last three years.
That temporary arrangement allows students to leave their cars on that site between 8.30am and 4.30pm in term time. It was put in place in 2016 after complaints from local residents about vehicles being left in front of their own houses.
That scheme has now been extended for another year by Wakefield Council's licensing committee, with a view to New College building its own car park, subject to planning permission, by next October.
But while New College has pledged some cash for the car park, sixth formers who drive will be asked to pay for using it as well, to offset the cost and encourage the use of the public transport.
It is not yet clear how much they will be expected to fork out.
But Pontefract North councillor Clive Tennant criticised New College for the length of time the process is taking.
Speaking at a licensing committee meeting on Wednesday, he said: "The word temporary is supposed to mean a short period of time.
"We're being asked to extend this until June 2020, but the permanent car park won't be ready until October next year?
"I know the Pontefract Park Steering Group (which represents park users and stakeholders) are getting quite frustrated with this."
He later added: "The New College has been dragging its feet on this for quite a while."
In response, the council's highways officer Robert Gillicker, said: "The biggest stumbling block has been the funding.
"As you can appreciate with something of this size, lots of students go in their car to New College.
"So the cost of the project is half a million pounds and we haven't been able to find any mainstream funding for that. That's the reason for the hold up.
"New College are willing to pay towards a permanent facility.
"They recognise that students should use the buses instead of coming in their cars, so they intend to ask students for a contribution towards parking in the new permanent facility."
Mr Gillicker said that that extension to the temporary arrangement from now until June was necessary.
He added: "The problems will still be there (if an extension isn't granted). The buses will be on the highway and the students' cars will be everywhere.
A planning application for the car park is expected to be submitted in the coming months.
Coun Tennant, who sits on the Pontefract Park Steering Group, declared an interest and did not take part in the vote to extend the temporary licence.
New College could not be reached for comment on Thursday, as it is currently closed for half-term.
Local Democracy Reporting Service