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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Cumbrian council scraps taxi rank idea after shops protest

A taxi rank will not run through the middle of Workington’s shopping centre.

When consultation started earlier this year into finding a new location for the night-time rank, shoppers and business owners were outraged that it could be placed in the middle of the £35 million pedestrianised shopping centre.

But Allerdale Council’s licensing panel has now crossed off that option from its list of locations.

Following the results of the three-month consultation, the panel will now choose a site out of a list of three possibilities when it meets next week.

The remaining locations are Jane Street, Murray Road and Udale Street.

The news will be welcomed by many who feared that if the rank moved to the Washington Square Shopping Centre, it would lead to traffic problems and the possibility of drunken anti-social behaviour at the flagship development.

The consultation was launched earlier this year after taxi drivers approached Allerdale Council and Cumbria Police with alternative sites because of reports of problems with the existing Washington Street rank.

These included drivers doing U-turns and parking at the traffic lights and up Ramsay Brow.

At a meeting of last month’s licensing panel, members agreed to defer their decision until they held a site visit.

Inspector Craig Lory said that the rank needed to be moved from Washington Street, where it is currently located, as it was “an accident waiting to happen”.

He added: “Our preferred option would be Murray Road.

“It disperses people out of the town centre and only people who want a taxi will go there – and I can dedicate a patrol to it.”

The county council’s highways department stated their preferred option as Udale Street and Murray Road as their second option. Allerdale’s town centre manager Toni Meagan agreed with these preferences.

Dave Fletcher, Washington Square development manager, said that if people were walking through the shopping centre to get to a new rank and damage was caused to shops, he would apply to have shutters put on the shop windows, which would turn the town centre into “Beirut”.

A site visit on the three proposed locations will take place next Tuesday, ahead of the official meeting.

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