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On-street parking charges in Cumbria: Scrutiny board backs decision

Cumbria council is to press ahead with on-street parking charges in towns across the county.

A meeting of the authority's scrutiny management board today backed a recent decision to implement the controversial charges.

That comes after a major public outcry and two Cumbrian MPs warned the charges could harm town centres.

The board was told it was a stealth tax and that the public and traders had not been properly consulted.

But that was dismissed by Keith Little, the cabinet member for transport, who said the decision had been taken according to rules and regulations. He added it was not the case that the majority of those consulted were against the charges.

A proposal to refer the decision back to the full council for further discussion was not accepted and scrutiny member Kevin Hamilton successfully proposed that the original decision should be endorsed.

Council leader Stewart Young had earlier hit out after South Lakes MP Tim Farron wrote an open letter to voice the concerns of constituents.

In his letter, the Liberal Democrat MP said that hundreds of people had been in touch about the proposal which he fears could damage the local economy.

“I am extremely concerned that these proposals will have a detrimental effect on our towns and local businesses,” he wrote, pointing out that many rely heavily on tourism and attracting visitors.

“If we continue to treat our town’s as ‘honeypots’ for the council to dip into, that will inevitably cause real damage to the area.

“I appreciate the significant savings which the council are currently being faced with,” added Mr Farron, the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP.

“You will no doubt be aware that I voted against the Government’s local government finance settlement as I felt it unfairly penalised rural councils such as Cumbria and South Lakeland."

In his response, Mr Young urged the MP to use his influence to encourage local businesses and town and parish councillors to engage in the public consultation about the proposed charges.

However, he went on to point out that Mr Farron could not be absolved of blame.

“I note that you voted against this year's local government finance settlement,” Mr Young said, “but of course the damage has been done by the budgets set by the coalition government since you came to power in 2010, all of which you voted for.

“I don't need to remind you that these have allocated an unfair proportion of the cuts to local government compared to other parts of the public sector.

“If you would like to understand the scale of the cuts in Cumbria as a result of your decisions, I would be happy to arrange a briefing for you from our officers,” added Mr Young.

Last week, Carlisle’s Conservative MP John Stevenson suggested that Cumbria County Council will be making a huge mistake if it presses ahead with the on-street parking charges in eleven towns across the county.

“I think this is a huge strategic error by the council,” he said. “What we want to see is a prosperous and buoyant city centre and one thing that will put people off coming in is car parking charges.”

He fears the charges could encourage shoppers choose to shop instead in places such as Gretna or Newcastle, where much parking is free, rather than in Carlisle city centre.

Have your say

At last it seems the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is now starting to clamp down on the greedy cash cow councils.
Lets hope he takes action over those councils who are clearly abusing (OR ABOUT TO CCC) the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
Note the point from the link below.
"Giving local residents and firms the right to demand a review of parking in their area"

Posted by edd on 21 June 2014 at 12:27

I think the system of timed disc zones if properly enforced works well to both get people into town centres and ensure spaces are used fairly i.e not for all day parking in places like Ambleside.

Changing this to a petty system with ugly meters is beyond any good sense, which is obviously why it's a local government idea.

Posted by Rob on 17 June 2014 at 12:23

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