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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Parking charges move to be raised with Government's Eric Pickles

Moves to introduce on-street parking charges in Cumbria are to be raised with the Government’s Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

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Election: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles

Unrest is growing over proposals to bring in the fees, which aim to raise £700,000 to offset dwindling levels of local authority funding as county councillors fight to find another £70 million of savings over the next three years.

Carlisle Conservative county councillor John Mallinson this week branded the proposals “foolish” as he challenged Stewart Young, the council’s Labour leader, to say when the proposals would be abandoned.

Petitions to try and stop the charges going ahead are gathering support – on top of the News & Star’s Keep Our Streets Free campaign.

Lakes parish council is among the opponents, with Ambleside among the 11 places where payment zones would be imposed. It has written to Mr Pickles asking for his views amid claims that on-street parking fees are illegal.

Ambleside butcher Mark Shepherd, of Clayton’s in Compston Road, denounced the move as “unthinkable” and said: “This is simply about fleecing our tourists and visitors. What it will do is just drive people away.”

Other towns that could also see parking meters introduced at the roadside include Carlisle, Workington, Whitehaven, Cockermouth, Maryport and Keswick.

At Thursday’s county council meeting, Keith Little, portfolio holder for highways, said: “The cost of overall monitoring and enforcement will be up to the local committees. It will be up to them to set what the charges will be.”

The council calculated that on-street parking charges countywide will generate £350,000 in the first year and £700,000 afterwards, while resident permit charges will generate £250,000 each year. A one-off £280,000 was budgeted for to install ticket machines.

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