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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Free parking bid to help traders hit by major roadworks scheme

Free parking is being provided to help businesses in Cockermouth deal with the impact of major roadworks.

Roadworks photo

The town’s Main Street is closed in both directions and will be until May. Work will then continue on the remainder of the shopping street until August.

Traders, who were initially told only one lane would be closed, are worried about the impact.

Allerdale council has said it will allow drivers to park for free for two hours at either the Wakefield Road or Sullart Street car parks.

It hopes the move will help compensate for the loss of disc parking and encourage people to shop in Cockermouth.

Allerdale council leader Alan Smith, who also represents Cockermouth, said: “As soon as we heard that Cockermouth’s main arterial road was to close we knew we had to come to the rescue of traders and help keep Cockermouth open for business.

“I hope this free parking will make life easier for shoppers and visitors, and keep them supporting our amazing array of local businesses.

“We know the roadworks and drain repairs have to be done because of the damage caused underground by the 2009 floods but it is hugely disappointing that Main Street has to be fully closed. Some businesses were only just back on their feet and now they’re hit with this."

Shoppers have been urged to do all they can to help the town's traders.

Catherine Bell, who runs the Cockermouth Paper Shop on Main Street, said: "It’s always quiet in January and February, you expect that, but as we get into March you think things are going to start picking up.

"People start to come and visit us at this time of year but will they still feel they should come if the road is closed and they can’t get parked?

“It only really transpired on Tuesday that it was going to be a total closure. Before than we thought it was going to be a partial closure.

“Even getting products in, like our papers – this is going to make it difficult.

“But more than anything we are just encouraging our customers to support us while we are hemmed in. We do have a lot of loyal customers.”

Traders have held meetings with highways officials from Cumbria County Council to try and minimise adverse effects from the works.

Jonty Chippendale, chairman of Cockermouth Chamber of Trade, said talks have been on-going for two years to how disruption can be minimised for traders, locals and visitors.

Margaret Jackson, a town and Allerdale councillor who also chaired the steering group, said it was unfortunate they are having to close the whole street but it would be worth it in the end.

“We have got to do this work, it is necessary and what we will have in the long run will be good for the town. It will make it a better street.

“What I would say though is that Cockermouth is not closed. The shops are still open and there is still pedestrian access,” she said.

Keith Little, the county councillor responsible for highways, said deliveries would continue to be made during the works and pedestrian access would be maintained to all businesses on Main Street.

The work will be carried out in two phases, starting with the section between Sullart Street and Station Street. Diversions are in place via Station Street, which has two-way traffic during the temporary closure.

A way through Main Street will be maintained for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists and deliveries to premises will be accommodated in the closure length. The second phase of work, from High Sand Lane to Cocker Bridge, is planned to start in May and will also involve a road closure.

The enhancement scheme should be completed in August, subject to adverse weather or any unforeseen circumstances.

The north footway will be closed in sections to allow for reconstruction and a temporary footway with access provided to all properties and shops will be maintained.

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