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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Start of street parking charges delayed by council

Plans to introduce on-street parking charges in Cumbria have been delayed – but a council leader insists they will still come into force.

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Stewart Young: ‘Decent and honourable man’

Cumbria County Council is bringing in the charges, as well as those for residents’ permits, to raise funds.

Its cabinet was expected to approve the proposal at its meeting yesterday, but it has now been deferred.

Business leaders are warning politicians they will face heavy lobbying until the next meeting.

A report to councillors named streets in Carlisle city centre and Penrith and Keswick town centres where charges might be imposed.

Councillor Keith Little, who holds the county’s highways brief, proposed the delay following concerns from the authority’s scrutiny committee about how it will be implemented.

He said the extra time would allow them to work with the authority’s local committees and get important feedback.

But council leader Stewart Young stressed that the delay does not mean they are reconsidering the charges.

He added that they must do it within the planned timescale in order to meet the council’s already tight budget – otherwise extra money will have to be found from elsewhere.

However by deferring the decision until May, it will allow them to use local knowledge to fine-tune the plan.

“We are going to introduce charges for on-street parking and parking permits for residents. The issue is the implementation of that. We need to get it right,” he explained. “Some people were opposed to this but the council has taken a democratic decision.

“Ultimately there is a budget saving sitting behind this that has to be delivered. But this will give us an opportunity for further discussions.”

Mr Young added that although the initial paper set out six areas where charges would be introduced – Carlisle, Penrith, Keswick, Whitehaven, Barrow and Ambleside – the total will actually be 11. These areas, along with affected streets, will be included in the updated papers next month.

Lorraine Taylor, Keswick’s deputy mayor, said that a lot of visitors to her town were tourists who expected to have to pay for parking.

She said: “Keswick is a tourist town but it’s market towns like Wigton where the concern is that people will not bother visiting and go to other areas where there is free parking.

“The concern is the long term effect on towns.”

On-street parking is expected to be on the agenda for the next meeting of Keswick town council.

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