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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Cumbrian beauty spot failing to pay its way

A popular Brampton beauty spot should be better at generating more cash from visitors councillors have heard.

Talkin Tarn photo
Talkin Tarn

A report has suggested ways of plugging a £10,000 funding shortfall at Talkin Tarn and it could get final approval by the end of the month.

One option was trying to make the tearoom more profitable and other ideas included, franchising watersports, improving the gift shop and introducing an outdoor activity area.

A recommendation was also made that the authority should link up with transport firms to make reaching the tarn easier.

Other proposals:

  • Promoting a membership scheme – which will allow people to buy an annual parking permit, and receive perks;
  • A new marketing campaign;
  • Filling a vacancy in the green spaces team, which looks after parks, as soon as possible.

Members of Carlisle City Council’s Environment and Economy Overview and Scrutiny Panel yesterday considered a report about the further economic potential of the Tarn.

However, panel member Steven Bowditch felt it may make better economic sense if the council explored the possibility of appointing a business manager for the tarn.

He said: “A good business manager will make it that you break even very quickly.”

The tarn budget is £100,000 a year.

Councillor Stephen Layden, the panel chairman, said: “If it is such a beneficial place for the people of Carlisle then £10,000 is not a lot of money to find.”

Councillor Paul Nedved said there was “considerable scope for improvement” but the site also needed effective marketing as well as improved transport links.

He added: “As Oxenholme has been used for the Lakes – we should have Brampton station for Talkin Tarn.

“At the moment we don’t have any specific transport and people are relying on cars.”

Councillor Willie Whalen said that the tranquility was one of the area’s assets and added: “If it’s £10,000, I think it’s worth paying that – it’s a gem for Carlisle.”

The panel voted in favour of the original recommendations put forward by the report, which will be considered by the city council’s executive on Friday, May 31.

Have your say

I am so disappointed that noone in charge seems to understand how to get a wonderful facility like Talk Tarn working properly for the community.

First of all, work out what your aims are. Should it be an income generator? Or is it a service for the community to support the wellbeing of local people? If the former only, then that £10000 is a big problem, and needs solving by being very hardnosed and market-led. Put on only popular commercial activities. Get a shop there, allow development. Keep out people unlikely to spend and children by discouraging public transport and having parking charges and entrance charges.

But I believe Talkin Tarn can have an impact on the community beyond the immediate such as increased health through encouraging walking, gentle cycling, outdoor actitvities, increased social interaction through chances to take part in events, increased local wealth though the tourism that local attractions provide. "Making it pay" is then rather silly because it does not take into account these impacts - which do have an economic value. The approach should be very different: remove barriers to visit - remove that stupid parking charge, get some form of public transport to it; increase free and relevant events - encourage local people to run events freely, support the boat club and other groups associated with the Tarn to run more drop-in activities; create opportunities for small businesses to provide facilities and refreshments (I looked at taking on the boat hire - the conditions were just too onerous, the restrictions on operations too extensive, to take on even as a hobby, non-profit making enterprise); look for creative innovative ways to share costs and income with businesses to What you may find, as so many other attractions have found, that this will get many more people to visit, both local and tourists, driving up income and potential revenue not just at the Tarn, but also the local area.

A measly £2 parking charge does not raise much money, but serves to put people off. No boats for hire means yet one less reason for going. The run- of- the-mill cafe does not attract. And the lack of promotion does not help. Shame! Because the Tarn is lovely, but could be so much more attractive.

Posted by Sarah on 19 May 2013 at 22:25

If public transport was available, and reliable, and a reasonable price, I might decide to visit. I don't have a car & I'm unemployed, so I can't save for one.

Posted by Carrie on 17 May 2013 at 16:00

View all 35 comments on this article

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