Whitehaven traders fear the town’s “heart and soul” could be lost, as parking restrictions are having a negative impact on their businesses.

Shop owners in the Market Place have voiced their concerns over the current parking situation.

They fear businesses will shut up shop due to the parking changes that were introduced by the county council nearly two years ago.

A number of disc-parking zones were replaced with loading bays and spaces for disabled parking.

Andrew McDowell, who owns McDowell’s newsagents in the Market Place, said the restrictions are putting people off shopping in the area.

He said: “There’s not enough parking for able-bodied customers now.

“It puts a lot of shoppers off coming into town. I think the market could be more equally weighted.

“We are all independent down here. If that goes the heart and soul of the town has gone.”

Ken Kinsella, who owns greengrocers B Kinsella and Sons, said: “We might as well revert back to a disc zone. Make one side disabled and the other side for everyone else. I don’t know what the sense was.”

Traders have also hit out at the town’s “overzealous” traffic wardens.

Mr Kinsella said: “Every time you look outside the window, there’s a parking warden putting a ticket on. There’s too much of it.

“I think it’s unnecessary. We’re only a small town - we don’t need wardens coming every five minutes.”

Mr McDowell added: “It’s overzealously policed by wardens who have no consideration for anyone’s situation. They only see black or white. They just seem to hang about waiting for people.”

County Councillor Graham Roberts said he would raise the issue at a future council meeting.

“Parking is a very emotive thing. It’s a very restrictive area - there has to be some sort of control. It’s a very small area. Perhaps it’s time to look at it again. At the time it seemed like a great idea but perhaps it wasn’t. I will bring it up at one of the meetings.”

He added: “Parking is a problem. We are going to have to address it. There’s so much going on in the town with the regeneration. We have got to attract people into the town who want to come and spend money. That’s vital.”

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: “Changes to parking arrangements in market place were subject to extensive public consultation in 2017, including letter drops and drop-in sessions, which were attended by members of the local community and business owners. The changes were implemented early 2018.

“Like all traffic related changes these are informally monitored and in conjunction with other areas in Whitehaven are currently being reviewed.

“In response to feedback from the local community and elected local members, Cumbria County Council’s parking services teams operate targeted enforcement in areas where we know there are significant parking concerns or have received reports of inconsiderate parking.

“Parking enforcement facilitates a healthy turnover of available parking spaces to benefit the local community and economy, as well as free-flowing traffic to enhance road safety.

“There is an appeals process for any penalty charge notice recipients to access on line or in writing.”