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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Parking fees could ‘benefit business’

ON-STREET parking fees in Whitehaven will go-ahead – and charges may be brought in as soon as autumn.

Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet has agreed to set aside a one-off funding package of £300,000 to pay for the phased approach to introducing on-street parking charges and charges for residents’ parking permits.

But Allan Mossop, chairman of the West Cumbria branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “It will kill the town – it won’t take a lot to kill Whitehaven. It will without a doubt affect businesses.”

Mr Mossop said he, on behalf of the FSB, handed out petitions against the proposals to Whitehaven businesses at a Small-Business Saturday in December.

He will deliver the petitions to the county’s Full Council meeting next week, where the decisions on all the budget cuts proposals will be finalised.

If – as expected – on-street parking charges are approved, survey and planning work will then get under way to firm up the detail of where charging will be introduced.

The original budget proposals aimed to begin charging on-street charging in busy high-streets and high-demand areas. Whitehaven is the only town in Copeland where the charges would be introduced. Elsewhere in Cumbria, other towns like Cockermouth, Keswick and Maryport will also be affected.

Coun Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for highways, said: “This is a big step for Cumbria, so it’s important we get it right. By introducing on-street charging and residents’ permits in a phased, co-ordinated manner, it will allow us to fully understand where are the most effective locations, how it ties in with off-street parking and free parking areas, and what is the best technology to allow an affordable, practical and user-friendly solution.”

The move is intended to save £350,000 across the county in the next financial year (2014/15) and £1.4million over the following two years, says Cumbria County Council.

Coun Little said: “The key thing is that we recognise that, given the scale of the savings we must make, that on-street parking is the right long-term solution for a county like Cumbria.

“If done correctly it can mean smoother traffic flows, more availability of parking in the highest demand areas and benefits for businesses through an increase in available spaces.”

The exact locations of the paid-for parking will be confirmed once engineers have completed their surveying, scoping and planning work. The necessary legal and democratic process will be needed to implement new Traffic Regulation Orders which are introduced in consultation with residents and businesses. The earliest date charging could be implemented would be later in autumn.

But Mr Mossop has hit out at the move, saying the FSB has been working with councils across the country calling for the removal of on-street parking charges. He claims figures show when on-street parking charges go down or are removed altogether, footfall in towns increases. Likewise, when on-street-parking charges increase, footfall decreases.

He said: “People aren’t going to come into the town to go to the chemist or a single shop if they have to pay for on-street parking. They are more likely to go to supermarkets where parking is free.

“I have said it time and time again – on-street parking charges aren’t just a figure on a balance sheet; there is much more to it than that.”

The Cabinet has recommended the introduction of a charge for residents’ parking permits should be coordinated with on-street parking charges. When introduced, the charge for a resident’s parking permit in 2014/15 will be no more than £25.

Have your say

Are they also going to charge to park on Loop Road, New Road and Lonsdale Place? No they're not double yellow-lined, but they are all 40 mph speed limit roads which means vehicles should legally show parking lights after dark - but nobody has ever bothered about it and now the road is so bad for parking two large vehicles can barely get past each other. Whitehaven is just one large "free" car park.

Posted by Modern Girl on 12 February 2014 at 13:00

This will finish off Whitehaven town centre, people are not going to pay for parking if they are just nipping into a shop for 10 minutes to get a last minute thing or in order to have the 'priviledge' of visiting pound shops, charity shops and cheap tat shops. The charges will finish off the getting smaller handfull of decent shops we still have left. We may as well start boarding the place up and posting closed signs on the entrance to Whitehaven of the A595! Abolish Councillors - that would save us all paying for these idiots!

Posted by Andrew on 11 February 2014 at 12:06

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