Campaigners step up fight against on-street parking charges

The Westmorland Gazette: Coun Jo Stephenson Coun Jo Stephenson

CAMPAIGNERS have stepped up the fight to block the introduction of on-street parking charges in the heart of the Lake District.

Thousands of flyers and posters have been distri-buted in Windermere and Bowness urging people to attend a public meeting opposing the charges.

Organised by the new Windermere and Bowness Action Group, the meeting will look at the affect that Cumbria’s proposal will have on the town.

Speaking at the meeting will be South Lakes MP Tim Farron, Coun James Airey, leader of the Conservative group on the county council, Coun David Williams of SLDC, Dr Ann Myatt and Nigel Wilkinson of Windermere Lake Cruises.

The county council plans to introduce the controversial charges in Kendal and Ambleside as well as Windermere as part of a package of measures to save £70 million between now and 2017.

It also believes charging for on-street parking would mean smoother traffic flows, more parking in high demand areas and said businesses would benefit ‘through an increase in available spaces.’

Last month a packed public meeting in Ambleside heard that the charges would drive trade away from the town centre.

One of those involved in the Windermere campaign is Adrian Legge, a town councillor and secretary of the Windermere and Bowness Civic Society.

He has written a letter to Windermere county councillor and Cumbria cabinet member Jo Stephenson highlighting his concerns.

Paul and Cecilia Flint, who live on Lickbarrow Road, say the plan is ‘ill-advised, poorly timed and likely to retard rather than promote the post-recession recovery of this area’.

“On-street charging appears to be a response to financial shortages within the council, which itself is caused by necessary economic cut-backs by the Government to help bring the country out of debt,” their letter to Coun Stephenson reads.

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“Recovery from the recession is going to be driven by businesses generating wealth, employing people and paying rates and taxes. Yet, it is local businesses that will suffer as a result of thse charges.”

Coun Stephenson said: “We are scheduled to lose between a quarter and a third of our revenue budget over the six years of the austerity programme. We cannot therefore go on providing free services, in this case traffic manage-ment and enforcement, and finding the money from the general fund which all council tax payers pay for.

“The government keeps itself afloat by borrowing. We cannot do that, and have a statutory duty to produce a balanced budget.”

The meeting takes place at the Ladyholme Centre at 7.30pm, tomorrow (Thursday).

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