BEHIND THE NEWS: Businesses and residents remain against parking meters plan

People remain opposed to parking meters being introduced

People remain opposed to parking meters being introduced

First published in News
Last updated
The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

DESPITE protests, placards, meetings and marches, parking meters are coming to the Lake District.

A council committee has voted nine-to-four to them going on eight streets in South Lakeland; The Glebe in Bowness; Wansfell and Lake Road, Ambleside, and Stramongate, Allhallows Lane, Maude Street, Gillinggate and Dowker’s Lane in Kendal.

Cumbria County Council says it needs meters to free up snarl spots and bring in vital service revenue, but the public and businesses remain opposed.

 

ON a good day in Bowness, as many as 100 vehicles park up right around The Glebe to take advantage of the free two-hour stay.

It is one of the last remaining slices of prime Lake District real estate where it’s possible to get something for free. But not any more.

From 2015, barring a halt to the process, it will be £1.50 an hour to park there with the first 20 minutes free.

And it’s not just the tourists who’ll be out of pocket, but locals too...

One annoyed manager who runs a business on the strip, sighed: “I don’t know where our staff are going to park now. They can’t afford to live in Bowness so they come in by car and can’t afford to pay for car parking on top of that.”

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And when all spaces on The Glebe are full, SLDC runs the nearest car parks at Glebe Road and Braithwaite Fold where the shortest stay is three hours for £4.

Hour-long stays are possible at Ferry Nab but it could be too far for some older people or less able-bodied tourists.

Joe Perruzza, of Joseph’s Ice Creams on The Glebe, said: “It’s wrong. People just want to come for a couple of hours and if they can’t get parked, then we will lose local trade.”

Windermere Aquatics is the largest business on The Glebe – occupying a 3.5-acre site with a marina, berthing, boat sales and servicing.

Businessman, Grahame Armer, offers a 69-space car park where for £4, visitors can park all day Monday to Friday.

“We are totally opposed to it because it’s not going to aid tourism and actually it’s going to be another hurdle to have to try to get around,” said Mr Armer.

“They are treating The Glebe as the sacrificial lamb.

“If you plan on going into Bowness (after the meters have come in) you’ll be clock watching.”

Richard Ellis, who runs Bowness Taxis, knows every inch of The Glebe as he spends his days servicing the nearby taxi rank.

“I think it’s just another way of the council obtaining money and turning the tourists away,” says Mr Ellis.

“People like being able to park up and have an hour on The Glebe. It will put a lot of local people off from parking up and going to the local shops,” he said.

“But tourists will pay it at the end of the day won’t they?”

The debate which has raged for virtually half a year came to a swift conclusion last Thursday in Kendal with a quick show of hands.

The South Lakes Local Committee – controlled by the Lib Dems - heard from Ambleside solicitor Nick Davenport, and Kendal businessman Alan Jewitt, who both spoke out against the meters.

But the Liberals pointed out their party had cut the number of streets to have meters from 25 to just eight.

As Coun Ian Stewart said: “All we're asking is for a small amount, a contribution? Probably the cost of an ice cream's worth. I believe it's the right thing to do and in the long term, we’ll be proved right."

But Tory leader Coun James Airey said if his party wins back control of the county council from the Lab-Lib coalition, his first act would be to table a paper for the meters to be scrapped.

“Kirkby Lonsdale, Millom, Ulverston - be warned, these meters are coming to a street near you,” said Coun Airey.

The county council says the meters are needed to control parking in the most popular on-street parking bays in town centres.

It says it can be difficult to find a space in the most popular high streets at busy times, ‘because they are full of static vehicles parked for up to an hour, or sometimes longer, whilst frustrated drivers circle around looking for a gap.’

“If the proposal leads to fewer vehicles (as opposed to people) in total, and shorter stays from those that park, then it could actually lead to better turnover and increased trade for local businesses.”

FEDERATION OF SMALL BUSINESSES CALLS FOR METERS TO BE POSTPONED

THE Federation of Small Businesses has this week called for the introduction of on-street parking meters to be postponed in Cumbria.

Just days after the South Lakeland Local Committee agreed the meters should come in, the FSB is calling for:

  • A postponement until a town-by-town study into parking requirements has been undertaken
  • Calling on the Department for Communities and Local Government to visit the area and understand the proposals
  • Surveying FSB members and community on their views of parking n Launching a ‘selfie’ campaign on social media using @noparkingcharge and #noparkingcharge

Gary Lovatt, regional chairman, said: “These measures continue to be highly unpopular with businessesand residents.

“One of the key aspects of this is that CCC are proposing a county-wide approach to tackling 11 areas of very different need. Our own approach in the different towns recognises that this ‘one size fits all’ approach is not the way forward.”

The Windermere and Bowness Action Group, set up to oppose the meters, said: “We are extremely concerned about the manner in which the committee took its decision. We feel that there was little and definitely derisory regard for the strength of feeling.”

On Tuesday (July 22), the Tory opposition on CCC called the decision in – freezing it for at last three weeks.

Tory leader Coun James Airey wants to know why a public petition against the meters was not declared and why two Lib Dem councillors left the meeting before the crucial 9-4 vote.

And Richard Greenwood, of Cumbria Tourism, said: ‘‘The Lake District is gaining a bit of a reputation for the cost of parking and on-street charges will not help. The additional machines and signs will also add to the street clutter. It is unlikely these proposals will help the vitality and viability of our towns and villages.”

A spokesman for the county council said it was prepared to work with the FSB.

“We have tried to work proactively and constructively with businesses at a local level in helping us to shape the implementation of on-street charges. Similar discussions with the business community have taken place in other local areas and capturing local knowledge to influence the introduction of on-street charging is fundamental to our approach.”

Citing evidence, commissioned by the Department for Transport, it added: “Critics often claim that parking pricing spoils local economic activity by discouraging customers, but it actually provides both economic benefits and costs. It increases turnover of parking spaces which makes finding a space easier and reduces the number of spaces required, which can provide financial savings, and reduce traffic.”

HOW THEY VOTED

The decision to bring in parking charges for some streets in Bowness, Ambleside and Kendal was made by the Lib Dem-run South Lakeland local committee of the county council on July 17.

 This is how the committee members voted:

FOR: Stan Collins (LD), Geoff Cook (LD), Nick Cotton (LD), David Fletcher (LD), Clare Feeney-Johnson (LD), John McCreesh (LD), Ian Stewart (LD), Janet Willis (LD), Mark Wilson (LAB).

AGAINST: James Airey (Con), Jim Bland (Con), Heidi Halliday (LD), Bill Wearing (Con).

ABSENT: Roger Bingham (Con), Shirley Evans (LD left meeting), Brenda Gray (LD, left meeting), Jo Stephenson (LD), Rod Wilson (LD).

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