AN Allerdale councillor says the reopening of car parks in Cumbria sends the wrong message and puts lives at risk.

The Lake District National Park Authority has now reopened all of its car parks following Boris Johnson's announcement on Sunday that people could travel anywhere in England for exercise.

"The decision to open Cumbrian car parks is in my view not a clever one and puts everyone’s life at risk," said Tony Lywood, Keswick town councillor.

"Further to Boris Johnson’s statement and the worry of an influx of people next weekend, Allerdale Council are intending to open our car parks this coming weekend in Keswick. I think this is a wrong move and sends out a completely wrong message to our potential visitors.

"It is my view, and the view of most of the Keswick town council and our Allerdale Borough Councillors that we should not be opening our town car parks.

When the Times and Star went to print Allerdale Council had not yet confirmed any details regarding the reopening of its car parks.

Mr Lywood, who also represents Keswick as a Cumbria County Councillor, said the decision would be "grossly premature" and could "backfire on us all".

Like many organisations, businesses and individuals in Cumbria, Sunday's announcement caught the The Lake District National Park Authority by surprise.

“We had hoped there would firstly be some warning on when lifting of travel restrictions would occur, so we would have had the opportunity to prepare,” explained Tony Watson, head of commercial and communications at the authority.

“Suddenly the travel restrictions had come to an end and we were told people could drive to exercise in 48 hours, which was challenging for a national park.”

Despite the reopening of car parks, Mr Watson says a trip to the Lake District is far from normal.

“Very few cafes, businesses and toilets will be open, so if you come you must prepare for what you are coming to.

“We’ve been working 24-hour shifts since Monday morning preparing car parks to be open and installing signs. On Wednesday we installed 500 signs.”

Mr Watson has a message for anyone considering travelling to the Lake District.

“There is still a high amount of Covid-19 infections in Cumbria and people are still in hospital. We don’t want people to rush back to the Lake District," he said.

Mr Watson has strong opinions about the updated messaging announced by the Government.

“I was disappointed with the decision and I’m prepared to go on record with that.

“The situation it creates for national parks is very difficult.”