Tourism chief wants a new car parking strategy to help visitors

Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens

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

CUMBRIA’S tourism chief has called for the county to have a ‘coherent parking strategy’ in the wake of a decision to introduce parking meters.

Ian Stephens, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, believes car parking is too ‘confusing’ for visitors.

Cumbria County Council’s decision to bring on-street charging to Kendal, Bowness and Ambleside was upheld last month.

Mr Stephens said: “Unfortunately we have the situation where there’s at least four different providers of parking here - the Lake District National Park Authority, the National Trust, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria County Council.

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“There’s no transferability and it’s not friendly for visitors to have such a confusing regime.”

Mr Stephens said Cumbria needed a ‘coherent parking strategy’ and Cumbria Tourism would make a ‘renewed effort’ to lobby local authorities to get one.

He said he would like to see visitors pay for their parking on the tourist board’s website when they booked their accommodation.

“There would be an icon - buy your parking ticket for the week and then you can park anywhere for £20 or whatever the price might be.”

However, he conceded that local authority agreement was difficult because councils relied on parking charges revenue.

“It’s a vital source of income for councils but unfortunately it’s not going to improve the visitor economy,” said Mr Stephens. “I have a duty to improve the visitor experience here and that would do it overnight - that’s the headache gone.”

Mr Stephens was equally outspoken about budget hotels and said the Lake District had nothing to fear from national chains like Premier Inn but did not want the park ‘over-run’ with them.

The hotel chain is still hoping to win permission for a 66-room hotel in a ‘historic’ corner of Ambleside, despite objections.

“The Ambleside application is more complex because it’s in an historic area and it’s on a very difficult site and I’m not entirely sure that all the planning requirements can be satisfied there, so there is no guarantee it will happen at this stage.”

Mr Stephens said that any hotel would need to be in the ‘appropriate’ place and that would need to acknowledge the ‘sensitivity’ of the Lakes environment.

He added: “Premier Inn will have huge numbers of potential visitors on their database and they will sell the Lake District and Cumbria as effectively as we do. In Kendal they have 97 bedrooms and it’s very successful. Has Kendal suffered? I don’t think Kendal has.”

Comments (10)

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8:26am Thu 4 Sep 14

Kent123 says...

If "Premier Inn ......... will sell the Lake District and Cumbria as effectively as we do" why do we need Cumbria Tourism? #joke
If "Premier Inn ......... will sell the Lake District and Cumbria as effectively as we do" why do we need Cumbria Tourism? #joke Kent123
  • Score: 0

9:35am Thu 4 Sep 14

Chateau Musar says...

Kent123 wrote:
If "Premier Inn ......... will sell the Lake District and Cumbria as effectively as we do" why do we need Cumbria Tourism? #joke
The unfortunate reality being, Premier Inn will probably do a better job than Cumbria Tourism.
[quote][p][bold]Kent123[/bold] wrote: If "Premier Inn ......... will sell the Lake District and Cumbria as effectively as we do" why do we need Cumbria Tourism? #joke[/p][/quote]The unfortunate reality being, Premier Inn will probably do a better job than Cumbria Tourism. Chateau Musar
  • Score: 2

9:37am Thu 4 Sep 14

well_informed says...

First off - Kendal is more than 10 times the size of Ambleside, so whether a Premier Inn only 50% bigger than the one proposed in Ambleside has caused Kendal to suffer is hardly a fair or relevant comparison. It is disproportionate to the magnitude of 1:7.

Secondly - yes, it will most certainly have caused losses in Kendal. The takings in Kendal will have left Kendal for good and gone to the Inn's shareholders, wherever they live (I'm willing to bet it's not Kendal). Is Kendal feeling prosperous enough that that is acceptable? Ambleside certainly isn't prosperous enough to take a hit seven times bigger than the one in Kendal.
First off - Kendal is more than 10 times the size of Ambleside, so whether a Premier Inn only 50% bigger than the one proposed in Ambleside has caused Kendal to suffer is hardly a fair or relevant comparison. It is disproportionate to the magnitude of 1:7. Secondly - yes, it will most certainly have caused losses in Kendal. The takings in Kendal will have left Kendal for good and gone to the Inn's shareholders, wherever they live (I'm willing to bet it's not Kendal). Is Kendal feeling prosperous enough that that is acceptable? Ambleside certainly isn't prosperous enough to take a hit seven times bigger than the one in Kendal. well_informed
  • Score: 23

10:04am Thu 4 Sep 14

1207 says...

The Lakes is overflowing with Hotels ALL with overpriced rooms and a were doing you a favour attitude to visitors just compare this to the way that Premier Inn do things, its up to the current Hotels to up there game.
Car parking is easy £1 a Hour across the Country or £5 for the day and a couple of Park and rides just like any other major visitor attraction.
The Lakes is overflowing with Hotels ALL with overpriced rooms and a were doing you a favour attitude to visitors just compare this to the way that Premier Inn do things, its up to the current Hotels to up there game. Car parking is easy £1 a Hour across the Country or £5 for the day and a couple of Park and rides just like any other major visitor attraction. 1207
  • Score: -5

2:59pm Thu 4 Sep 14

snuggle-bunny says...

I'd have thought the strategy was simple- no parking for anyone anywhere unless you're prepared to pay a fortune for it
I'd have thought the strategy was simple- no parking for anyone anywhere unless you're prepared to pay a fortune for it snuggle-bunny
  • Score: 8

4:00pm Fri 5 Sep 14

magical trevor says...

Agree with 1207....the Lake District is far too expensive hotel and B&B wise. Their prices are ridiculous.....let's welcome Premier Inn with open arms.
Agree with 1207....the Lake District is far too expensive hotel and B&B wise. Their prices are ridiculous.....let's welcome Premier Inn with open arms. magical trevor
  • Score: -23

12:05pm Sat 6 Sep 14

well_informed says...

magical trevor wrote:
Agree with 1207....the Lake District is far too expensive hotel and B&B wise. Their prices are ridiculous.....let's welcome Premier Inn with open arms.
Permit this brief parallel - I would like there to be more cake. There isn't enough cake, and I would love more of it.
Two things keep me from "welcoming more cake with open arms" - I'd soon be unhealthy and ugly, and I cannot afford as much cake as I would like to eat.

Although I agree with the both of you that cheaper rooms around the lakes would be great for the visitors on a smaller budget, I certainly do not agree that it justifies the sell-out to a purple flatpack chain hotel. I'd rather go without "the cake", as it were.

The parallel of getting unhealthy and ugly is the impact of more branded, homogenising corporate presence in Ambleside. You already see tourists complaining about the commercialisation of our village, and this is just another step towards becoming a place that visitors won't even want to visit.

The parallel of not being able to afford the cake is of course that the revenue of the inn will go to its owners and shareholders elsewhere in the country, leaving the area poorer than before (what little is paid to locals in wages is evened out by the loss of jobs in those hotels that the inn will force shut by competition).

I say: let's not welcome any cheaper rooms before they are unbranded and provided by local trade. Then, and only then, will the cake be good for us. And what's good for us is good for our visitors.
[quote][p][bold]magical trevor[/bold] wrote: Agree with 1207....the Lake District is far too expensive hotel and B&B wise. Their prices are ridiculous.....let's welcome Premier Inn with open arms.[/p][/quote]Permit this brief parallel - I would like there to be more cake. There isn't enough cake, and I would love more of it. Two things keep me from "welcoming more cake with open arms" - I'd soon be unhealthy and ugly, and I cannot afford as much cake as I would like to eat. Although I agree with the both of you that cheaper rooms around the lakes would be great for the visitors on a smaller budget, I certainly do not agree that it justifies the sell-out to a purple flatpack chain hotel. I'd rather go without "the cake", as it were. The parallel of getting unhealthy and ugly is the impact of more branded, homogenising corporate presence in Ambleside. You already see tourists complaining about the commercialisation of our village, and this is just another step towards becoming a place that visitors won't even want to visit. The parallel of not being able to afford the cake is of course that the revenue of the inn will go to its owners and shareholders elsewhere in the country, leaving the area poorer than before (what little is paid to locals in wages is evened out by the loss of jobs in those hotels that the inn will force shut by competition). I say: let's not welcome any cheaper rooms before they are unbranded and provided by local trade. Then, and only then, will the cake be good for us. And what's good for us is good for our visitors. well_informed
  • Score: 17

9:32pm Sat 6 Sep 14

1207 says...

I wonder how many locals own or work in the many hotels in the lakes.
Many of the bigger towns and villages around the lakes are just cake shops as it were and it might be time to spend some time working out how things should go forward with any development both of housing one comercial and yes we all want to have our cake and eat it to...
Will Sainsburys sell cake?
I wonder how many locals own or work in the many hotels in the lakes. Many of the bigger towns and villages around the lakes are just cake shops as it were and it might be time to spend some time working out how things should go forward with any development both of housing one comercial and yes we all want to have our cake and eat it to... Will Sainsburys sell cake? 1207
  • Score: 2

10:04am Mon 8 Sep 14

well_informed says...

I can only speak for Ambleside with any certainty, but the absolute majority of commercial accommodation here is provided by local residents (if not actually Ambleside then close, and certainly Lakes) - even The Salutation, which as a Best Western might be perceived as a chain hotel is privately owned (in the UK, "Best Western" is merely a group of independent hoteliers trading under a common name, clubbing together for advertising and marketing).
In fact, The Salutation and most of our local traders put a huge amount back into the community - not just by placing their money in local shops on a day to day basis, but by supporting all sorts of community activities, financially and physically - such as Ambleside Sports Day to name but one.

Can we expect that sort of dedication and support from The Premier Inn, or indeed Sainsburys? I do suspect that would get a no-go vote at their AGM. What does a shareholder in London care for prosperity and community somewhere up north, if it's at his cost?

So to answer your specific question: Sainsburys IS cake. Attractively convenient, devastatingly unhealthy.
I can only speak for Ambleside with any certainty, but the absolute majority of commercial accommodation here is provided by local residents (if not actually Ambleside then close, and certainly Lakes) - even The Salutation, which as a Best Western might be perceived as a chain hotel is privately owned (in the UK, "Best Western" is merely a group of independent hoteliers trading under a common name, clubbing together for advertising and marketing). In fact, The Salutation and most of our local traders put a huge amount back into the community - not just by placing their money in local shops on a day to day basis, but by supporting all sorts of community activities, financially and physically - such as Ambleside Sports Day to name but one. Can we expect that sort of dedication and support from The Premier Inn, or indeed Sainsburys? I do suspect that would get a no-go vote at their AGM. What does a shareholder in London care for prosperity and community somewhere up north, if it's at his cost? So to answer your specific question: Sainsburys IS cake. Attractively convenient, devastatingly unhealthy. well_informed
  • Score: 16

7:30pm Mon 8 Sep 14

1207 says...

We'll said SIr.
We'll said SIr. 1207
  • Score: 0

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