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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Cumbria anti-parking charge campaigners drawing up action plan

A fightback against parking charges is planned as a business federation leader warned that opponents are not merely a “vocal minority”.

Paul Foster photo
Paul Foster

Cumbria County Council’s controversial decision to install parking meters in 11 towns, including Carlisle, Penrith, Workington, Whitehaven and Keswick, has been heavily criticised.

Paul Foster, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) development manager for Cumbria and Lancashire, said that a meeting held on Monday in Carlisle, was a cause for optimism.

Business representatives were given the chance to discuss their feelings on the matter.

Mr Foster would not be drawn on specific ideas that were brought up at the meeting but said it had been constructive.

“The meeting highlighted the ongoing opposition to on-street parking charges from small businesses,” he said.

“The county council need to understand that this is not merely a vocal minority who are in opposition.”

The event was organised as an opportunity for businesses to meet and discuss the difficulties the charges will present for them. The aim is to minimise the disruption in the 11 towns where the scheme will be introduced.

And Mr Foster warned council bosses that criticism of the charges will not simply die down in time. He said: “The county council should also not see this as a temporary reaction.

“There have been suggestions that this will all blow over and that there will be no impact on our town centres and city centre.

“The people we spoke to fear for the future sustainability of their businesses and are rightly angry at the council for ignoring the representations of businesses and business groups such as the FSB during the consultation on the budget proposals.”

Mr Foster added: “A number of suggestions were put forward at the meeting, which the FSB will seek to address in the coming days.”

County council Tory leader James Airey told the News & Star there was “no business case” for the introduction of charges.

He pledged he would rip out parking meters across Cumbria if the Conservative party took future control of the authority.

Prior to the charges being approved, county councillors, including the late Labour councillor Willie Whalen and Ambleside’s Liberal Democrat member Heidi Halliday, had broken ranks to criticise the plans and support the News & Star’s Keep Our Streets Free campaign.

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