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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Protests mean new shopping centre taxi rank unlikely to be built

A new taxi rank looks unlikely to be built in the middle of Workington’s £35m shopping centre after uproar from traders and fierce opposition.

Risman Place photo
Pedestrianised Risman Place, Workington

Fears were raised about traffic problems, the potential for an accident and the possibility of drunks waiting for cabs urinating or being sick at the flagship development.

The results of a consultation after Allerdale council decided to look into options for the relocation of the town’s taxi rank can be revealed by the News & Star.

One of four possibilities for the night-time rank was to be at the heart of the shopping complex, along the pedestrianised Risman Place. Those consulted included taxi drivers, councillors, police, fire and rescue staff and members of the public.

None of them were in favour of the rank going in the middle of the shopping centre.

The results of a three-month consultation, held by Allerdale council, have been published in a report ahead of next Friday’s meeting of the authority’s licensing panel.

In the council’s report, Gillian Collinson, Allerdale’s senior land charges and licensing officer, said that the relocation of the rank would be made with the “full consultation of the trade and relevant agencies”.

The other options for the relocation are Jane Street, Murray Road and Udale Street by the Marks and Spencer car park.

In response to the consultation, Cumbria police said that they would prefer the rank to be on Murray Road on the grounds of public safety as there is better lighting and the area is also covered by CCTV cameras.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service raised concerns into the rank being sited on the pedestrian shopping area of the town as it may interfere with access for their vehicles.

Cumbria County Council’s Highways department is backing the Udale Street option, followed by the Murray Road one.

A spokesman said that the department was “strongly against” the other two options – Risman Place and Jane Street.

Allerdale council’s town centre manager Toni Magean said that he also preferred the Udale Street option.

Dave Fletcher, development manager for Washington Square shopping centre, said that the centre is designed as a pedestrian shopping centre and only emergency vehicles and maintenance are allowed down there.

He said: “If a taxi rank was given permission to be sited on the malls, this would then encourage the general public to use the malls for access and parking and it would only be a matter of time before a car accident happened.

“The speed of vehicles would not be monitored and it would turn into a short cut for other traffic.”

Mr Fletcher said that it would also lead to “drunks” waiting in shop doorways while waiting for a taxi, “urinating” and “being sick” in addition to possible criminal damage.

He fears that shop owners would then have to clear up the mess, creating tension and possible termination of their leases as tenants in the shopping centre.

Ms Collinson added in her report to councillors that members of the panel will consider the responses to the consultation and “in light of these and further comments made by the interested parties, determine whether any option is viable or further information is required”.

She concludes her report by stating that the relocation of the rank will be with the full consultation of the trade and relevant agencies.

The licensing panel will meet a week on Friday to discuss the proposal.

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