The mayor of Whitehaven is calling for enforcement action to stop drivers flouting traffic rules in the pedestrianised town centre.

Brian O'Kane wants to see action taken against people who drive on King Street during shopping hours amid concerns there could be a serious accident.

King Street is a marked pedestrian zone with no traffic allowed except for loading on certain evenings but Coun O'Kane raised concerns that the rules were not enforced.

Coun O'Kane raised the issue at Whitehaven Town Council's annual parish meeting and urged the police and county council to work with the town council to take action.

Speaking at the meeting, he said: "How can anybody justify a large truck driving down the bottom end of King Street at half past 10 on a Saturday morning towards people?

"It's going to take a serious accident or death until somebody recognises that King Street must be a total pedestrian precinct during shopping hours.

"Obviously in situations where there are deliveries after shopping hours, it's fair enough."

Charles Maudling, who represents the Whitehaven central ward on the town council, said: "We are probably the only town in Cumbria that the county council allows this to happen. If there is a queue from Lowther Street to Strand Street, drivers use King Street as a rat run.

"We need a safe environment for all, especially young children. Every shop on King Street has its shop doors open. Any child could wander out.

"At times it is like the M6. Quite a few speed up and if they cannot get past other vehicles, they reverse and nobody guides them."

Coun Maudling said there is a loading bay outside Burtons on Lowther Street that delivery vehicles can use.

"Most stores have rear access and all delivery vehicles have trolleys," he added.

Coun O'Kane also raised the issue of parking in the town which he said had been a problem for the last four years and was now becoming a "nightmare".

"Lowther Street can ground to a halt in minutes depending on the parking down the bottom end where Burtons is and nothing is being done."

County Councillor Chris Whiteside said: "I do think we need to make sure we are raising our game on the subject of enforcement. Copeland Local Committee's highways team regularly reviews the roads. We had a major review a year or so ago which we may want to look at again."

Mike Starkie, elected mayor of Copeland, said the new multi-story car park, which is to be built on land next to Tesco would help alleviate the problem.

Inspector Richard Smillie, of Cumbria Police, said: "I wasn't aware of the issue but I'm more than happy to work with partners to carry out some enforcement activity."

A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council confirmed that the restriction could only be enforced by the police.