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Sunday, 05 July 2015

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Fight to put brakes on West Cumbria parking charges

A massive public campaign is growing in a bid to stop controversial on-street parking charges being introduced to Maryport.

A groundswell of opposition to the plan has prompted Maryport Town Council to wade into the fight, and leading county politicians have voted to “call-in” the decision.

Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham said last night that a number of people had visited him to express concern about the controversial proposal.

Cumbria County Council decided last month that 11 towns considered suitable for parking meters would include Maryport, Workington, Cockermouth and Keswick.

The council argues that street parking charges, which will be slightly higher than equivalent off-street car park charges, will encourage people to leave spaces outside shops and increase vehicle turnover and footfall.

Jo Stephenson, deputy council leader, said the council had to find savings and the alternative to parking charges would have included closure of fire stations, libraries and household waste disposal sites.

Maryport town councillor Peter Kendall said he had lost count of the number of complaints he had received from residents and businesspeople.

He said: “I still have to find one person who agrees with the plan for parking meters. Our retail sector is on a knife edge as it is. Maryport depends on people coming into town to shop.”

He urged the town council to write to the county council to express its opposition.

Coun Gill Elliot, chairman of the Love Maryport town team, said she had been told that some people might organise car pools to Workington supermarkets to take advantage of free parking if charges were introduced.

Mayor Carol Tindall questioned why Maryport was being selected for meters when Silloth and Wigton were not.

She added: “I do not believe it has been adequately considered and I do not believe it will contribute to revenue.”

Meanwhile, Conservative and Independent county councillors have formally “called in” the decision.

The proposal will now face fresh scrutiny at a meeting on Monday.

Conservative leader James Airey said they had identified alternative funding sources.

In a separate move, the Independent group has also called in the decision.

At Monday’s meeting, the scrutiny board will hear the Conservative and Independent arguments as well as those from the cabinet which took the decision, and could ask the cabinet to look at it again.

A council spokesman said the final say would lie with the cabinet.

“Call-in meetings are an important part of the democratic process to allow members to test the merits of a decision,” he said.

“Scrutiny members can request that a decision is changed or reconsidered, but ultimately cabinet is the decision-maker on this issue.”

He confirmed that Keith Little, the cabinet member for highways and transport, would attend to explain the reasons behind the decision and address any concerns.

The Conservative call-in letter was signed by councillors James Airey, Helen Fearon and Eric Nicholson.

Their objections include poor consultation, the economic impact of charging, widespread opposition and questions over the legality of charging for disabled parking.

Details of the alternative proposals will not be revealed until after the meeting.

Have your say

as a resident who will be asked to pay for my permit if the CCC gets its way !! i wonder why on top of the constant damage done to my car by non residents trying to park and the expenses of repairs caused by this, the CCC think i should pay extra just for living in the town and not in surrounding areas where it will be F.O.C to park ?

Posted by steveg on 13 June 2014 at 18:17

I cannot see how you think it is right or fair for a portion of the community to be taxed.
The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 is not a fiscal measure and that decisions taken to accord with the requirements and duties set out in the Act MUST NOT be driven by generating income but by the purpose of securing expeditious movement of traffic. In essence a Highway Authority CANNOT use on-street parking charges as a revenue gathering tool but only as a traffic management tool and any revenue surplus is incidental to the traffic management role of the parking measures. In other words, the RTRA1984 does not authorise an authority to use its powers to charge local residents for parking in order to raise SURPLUS revenue for other transport purposes funded by the monies raised through the operation of parking places.

CCC have simply used the road traffic act to suite themselves. They are supposed to on a mission to save money not squandering it on ill thought out cash cow schemes and the building of new premises which are not needed.
CCC MUST and be seen to, act within the law.

Posted by Edd on 9 June 2014 at 16:17

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