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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Traders condemn new parking charges in Cumbrian town

Traders in Whitehaven have condemned plans to charge £1.80 an hour to park on six town centre streets.

Parking meters will be introduced, with Lowther Street, Market Place, Queen Street, Duke Street, James Street and Church Street proposed as locations.

Businesses say it will “kill trade” and one trader is asking councillors to have the “courage of their convictions” and stand up for the town.

Details of the streets, charges and restrictions in Whitehaven will be confirmed at Cumbria County Council’s Copeland Local Committee tomorrow.

Gerard Richardson, of Richardson’s of Whitehaven, said: “If money had been managed in the right way for years the county would not be introducing these charges now.

“People are used to these parking spaces being free. The reality is that if people nip into town they won’t want to pay £1.80 per hour for parking. If this is being looked at by county councillors from Copeland, they need to stand up for this area. It’s down to our councillors to have the courage of their convictions.”

Whitehaven is one of 11 towns across Cumbria to have the new charges introduced by the county council. The authority, which is facing severe spending cuts, calculates on-street parking county-wide will generate £350,000 in the first year and £700,000 afterwards.

It says it aims to reduce congestion levels by encouraging long-term parkers to use off-street car parks, “thereby maximising the turnover of existing on-street car parking”.

But Allan Mossop, of West Cumbria’s Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We [the FSB] are totally against it. We are fighting to that end county-wide. We hope the council will make alterations to the proposals.”

Andrew McDowell, of Market Place Post Office, said: “It will kill trade. It’s a cheap way of getting revenue but it will hit shoppers and shopkeepers hard. It’s a big charge.”

Michael Moon, of Michael Moon’s Bookshop, said: “They might as well close Whitehaven and tell people to go elsewhere. I would imagine that 50 per cent of businesses will pack up or think about leaving.

“We should be congratulating people on finding Whitehaven and shopping here, not putting them off.”

The proposals would see hourly on-street parking charges of £1.80 – 30p more than off-street parking charges set by Copeland Council. As a comparison, proposed charges for on-street parking in Keswick are £1.40 per hour.

Motorists are set to face further parking problems as fewer spaces will be available with the influx of 1,000 workers into Albion Square.

The multi-storey car park will be reserved for permit holders only during the week. People who use the facility on a casual basis and want to pay on the day will have to find elsewhere to park.

Heated debates have been held across the county by councillors on the proposed charges. At Allerdale’s local committee meeting last week, members refused to approve plans.

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