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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Cumbria's on-street parking charges a ‘shopping tax’

Plans to introduce on-street parking in Carlisle have been condemned as a “shopping tax”.

Gareth Ellis photo
Gareth Ellis

At a city council meeting last night, councillor Gareth Ellis said the plans – introduced by the county council to raise £700,000 to offset budget cuts – made him “worry about the future of [the] city”.

“It feels like the city might as well put up a huge sign saying ‘closed for business’.

“We will see a drop in retail,” he said.

“If the county council want to do this and carry out this folly, let them do it themselves.

“We should say no to what is essentially a shopping tax.”

Campaigners have launched a petition against the charges, with dissent being voiced across the county.

The county council has opted to bring in on-street charges in 11 towns and cities including Carlisle, Cockermouth, Keswick, Maryport, Whitehaven and Workington.

Retailers and business owners have voiced their opposition to the plans as part of the News & Star’s Keep Our Streets Free campaign.

Business leaders claim it will spell the end for many small employers who have struggled since the economic downturn.

Julia Clifford, who runs female-only gym Curves on Corporation Road in Carlisle, said that the charges would put her out of business in a week.

And Grant Etheridge, manager of Northern Vacuums on Abbey Street, Carlisle, described the proposals as “pointless”.

Councillor Elsie Martlew said she understands the concerns of retailers in the city centre. “Before Christmas I made it quite clear from Carlisle’s point of view that introducing parking charges wasn’t conducive to Carlisle business,” she said.

“The local retailers are under a lot of pressure with online shopping, out of town shopping and different shopping habits.

“I don’t think the charges are conducive to what we want to achieve in the city centre and there has been no communication between the county council and ourselves.”

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