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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Parking charges: Carlisle council 'totally opposed'; Eden threatens 'call-in'

Council leaders in Carlisle say they won’t take new on-street parking charges lying down – and Eden opposition have threatened to ‘call in’ the decision.

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Elsie Martlew: ‘Bodes well for the future’

Deputy leader of the city council Elsie Martlew insists the authority remains “totally opposed” to Cumbria County Council’s decision.

Parking charges are to be introduced in 11 locations across Cumbria after the county council’s cabinet approved the move on Thursday. The charges will replace the current disc zone system, which allows free parking for two hours.

Cumbria County Council insists the decision will lead to long-term savings of £700,000.

However, the leader of the opposition Conservative party on Eden council has pledged to ‘call in’ the ruling. James Airey also says he and fellow Tories will do all they can to hold the new charges up.

Labour councillor Mrs Martlew says the city council is also mulling over its next move but adds that the message is clear – “keep our streets free”.

She said: “We are holding the line – we are totally opposed to the charges. We will be looking at ways we can alleviate the problems which will be caused as a result.

“We are looking at the whole pricing strategy because we feel Carlisle needs to be vibrant and open for business, and an easy place in which to park.

“We are not taking this lying down – the county council may be the highways authority but they haven’t really thought it through in terms of the impact it will have. They have just looked at their own balance sheet and not those of the local businesses which will be affected.”

City council leader Colin Glover, meanwhile, has ordered a review into parking in Carlisle in a bid to protect the city centre.

He said: “There is a level that people will be happy to pay but it is when that becomes unsustainable that it will impact on the city centre. You have to get a balance.”

Mrs Martlew fears the new charges will put people off driving into the city centre.

“We made our position clear before Christmas – we are determined to protect and enhance the city centre,” she added.

“The city council is trying to make it more friendly for visitors and businesses and will do what it can to make sure that happens.”

Shoppers have also told the News & Star, which is leading the fight to ‘Keep Our Streets Free’, how the new charges will make them think twice about heading into the city centre.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron believes the council has got the decision wrong and warns it will hurt businesses and communities.

The county council, which is faced with having to make £80 million of savings, says the decision had to be made to protect services for the most vulnerable.

Parking fees will also be introduced in Penrith, Keswick, Maryport, Workington, Whitehaven, Cockermouth, Kendal, Barrow, Bowness and Ambleside.

Keswick is to be the first town to start charging for on-street parking, initially in Borrowdale Road, Station Street, and Station Road.

Streets in Penrith earmarked for the charges include Burrowgate, Crown Square, Devonshire Street, Friargate, King Street, parts of Great Dockray, Middlegate, and Sandgate.

It is still unclear which areas of Carlisle will have the new charges.

Local committees representing each town and city will ultimately decide on where the charges will be and how much.

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