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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Parking charges and bus cuts are 'double whammy' for Cumbria's villages

Cutting buses while introducing parking charges is a “double whammy” for the county’s rural communities, it has been claimed.

James Bainbridge photo
James Bainbridge

Related: On-street parking charges: Don't drive our recovery out of town

A councillor has told the News & Star that when you looked at some of Cumbria County Council’s budget proposals together, they created an impossible situation.

James Bainbridge, a Conservative councillor on Carlisle City Council, represents Stanwix Rural ward. He said: “The area I represent is quite rural – many have no choice [but to drive]. One of the key factors is the proposed changes is the reduction in some bus routes.

“If the bus is cut back, they have to come by car. If they come by car, they will be paying more.

“They are hit by a double whammy.”

Mr Bainbridge added: “It means they are less likely to come: places like supermarkets are free, or Amazon does free delivery and even out-of-town retail parks like Gretna Gateway are free.”

While the councillor has already spoken to a number of very concerned residents, he also empathises from an employer point of view as he works in a business in Carlisle city centre.

“I’m really quite concerned,” he admitted. “We rely heavily on footfall, as do a lot of small businesses who do not have the money for advertising.

“If less people come in to towns and the city, then you don’t have to be a genius to work out the effects.”

Mr Bainbridge’s views are echoed by other traders and residents, who have been commenting on the News & Star website.

David Cole, who would say only that he has run a business in the historic quarter for many years, wrote: “Right, that’s it. I have had enough.

“The last few years have been the toughest I have witnessed in my years as a shop owner.

“This is the last straw. I am going to close my business down.”

Another poster gave their support to Mr Cole, adding: “I for one will not be visiting the town soon due to high parking costs. It's a shame for Mr Cole who feels his only option is to close his business down.

“Online shopping and business parks are the way forward (rightly or wrongly). Costs in general are high nowadays. Who wants to pay more to park?”

Shopper David Cooper said it was not only the county council which needs to reconsider parking costs.

He wrote: “It’s not only about charging, it’s how much they charge. I don’t normally use the car parks in my town, I park in side roads.

“However, recently I needed to park in one of my town centre car parks for 10 minutes. That cost me £1.20, they must be having a laugh.

“If on-street charging comes in as well, I will just get everything from the out-of-town shopping areas instead.”

Colin pointed out that the difficulty in finding a space – something the county council believes its parking measures will combat – is also an issue, while someone calling themselves Andy wrote simply: “How to damage a struggling city centre economy...”

It was not all negative however, with one News & Star web commentator calling themselves Bananaman writing: “Anywhere else you go in the country you’d pay for on-street parking. Think we’ve been lucky in Cumbria getting away with it for long enough.

“Look at the bigger picture – if this doesn’t happen then we could lose services like social workers and care workers – people would whinge then wouldn’t they?”

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