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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

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Carlisle council to look at ways of easing parking meters pain

Senior city councillors are looking at how they can reduce fees in their car parks to help ease the pain of new on-street charges when they come into force.

Colin Glover photo
Colin Glover

It is feared the new parking costs will hit Carlisle’s shopping centre by encouraging more people to go out of town where they can stop for free.

Cumbria County Council’s Carlisle Local Committee this week agreed to install parking meters on city centre streets following a controversial vote.

It saw two independents, Robert Betton and Bill Graham, refusing to take part, despite having previously voiced their opposition. They have since come under fire after it emerged their votes could have halted the charges plan.

However, the vote went in favour of the meters and the county council will soon apply for formal traffic orders.

In order to reduce the impact of traders, Carlisle City Council is looking at whether it can bring down the cost of parking in its off-street car parks.

Cumbria County Council is pushing ahead with on-street charges in 11 towns despite widespread opposition.

It says it has no choice because its funding has been cut and it needs to protect its other services, including those for vulnerable people.

City council leader Colin Glover said: “Our greatest concern is the impact on traders in the city. We’ve certainly got a fragile trading environment.

“The city is on the up. People are getting a bit more confidence and we’ve got some new shops coming, plus bars and cafes opening. We do not want anything to destabilise that. That’s our prime concern.

“We have made our feelings known but have no control over the decision, so we now have to work even harder to support businesses and build confidence in the city through things like our events programme.

“We have asked our officers to look at our car parks and see if there’s anything we can do to help. That might be special offers like the ‘Free after 3’ offer we ran before Christmas, to encourage families to come into town after school.”

Deputy leader Elsie Martlew added: “I understand that the county has been hit by massive cuts, but I think they have made a mistake. It sends out the wrong message to attract people into Carlisle to do business, and for shopping and leisure.

“As a city councillor I will be looking at ways of redressing this by perhaps reducing our car parking charges to make Carlisle more attractive for people who need to park.”

Committees in each district council are currently debating the parking meter plans. Copeland is due to discuss the issue today while Eden meets next week.

Opponents are hoping they will follow in the footsteps of Allerdale and rebel against the charges.

In Barrow and South Lakes the plans were voted through, though the latter’s decision has now been “called in” for further scrutiny.


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