Re-think the planned £1.80/hr parking charge for Whitehaven!
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We call upon Cumbria County Councils Copeland Committee to re-think their planned £1.80/hr parking charge for Whitehaven; specifically for the meters that are to be placed on Lowther Street, Market Place, Queen Street, Duke Street, James Street and Church Street.
- 20% increase is a blatant money grab.
- Parking charges to raise revenue are illegal.
- Businesses in Whitehaven are struggling.
- Portas Review highlighted that free parking increases footfall.
- Whitehaven should be shopper friendly.
- High parking charges will scare off investors.
- Copeland Committee should be encouraging growth & prosperity.
Because the charge can be 20% higher than other off-street parking in Whitehaven, it does not mean that it should be. The charge is unfair, and is a blatant money-grab because of reduced parking in the town, due to the new Albion Square development, which has taken up much of the space in the multi-story car park.
The parking meter charges that are proposed have been claimed to be necessary, to save £350,000 for this financial year in Cumbria and £1.4 million over the next two years. Indeed, Copeland Councillor Mike Hawkins confirmed via a debate on social media, that the charges were in place to ‘save’ money, due to budgetary cuts by central government. Of course, what Councillors mean by to “save money,” is to raise money through illegal means.
In 2011, at a judicial review with Barnet Council, it was determined that using parking charges to raise revenue for unrelated purposes was illegal, under the 1984 Road Traffic Act. For Cumbria County Council to introduce these parking meters, to raise money due to budgetary cuts, they are flouting the 1984 Act.
It is widely recognised that businesses in Whitehaven are struggling. There are a large number of empty properties on the streets of Whitehaven, and this unfair parking charge will result in shoppers bypassing the town, and going elsewhere, where parking charges will be lower. The charges will cause irreparable damage.
The 2011 Mary Portas independent review, into UK High Streets highlighted that out-of-town retail floor-space has increased by 30%; while town centre retail floor-space has fallen by 14%. This is due primarily to the free parking offered by out-of-town shopping facilities. Should this ridiculous, £1.80/hr parking charge be implemented in Whitehaven, footfall in the town will reduce much further, and result in grave consequences for local businesses.
Parking charges in Whitehaven should be managed intelligently, for the system to work as intended. Extortionate parking charges will result in shoppers searching for parking spaces, causing pollution and congestion, and is of benefit to nobody. In Chester town centre, there is a ‘free after three’ scheme, which has resulted in an increase in footfall. We recommend that the Copeland Committee adopt a similar scheme in Whitehaven, where parking is free after 3pm, instead of the proposed 6pm cut-off time.
Whitehaven should be shopper friendly - this £1.80/hr charge sends out the wrong message to the public. £Millions has been spent in an attempt to improve the town centre. The Townscape Heritage Initiative is one such scheme, which is designed to increase footfall, but the higher parking charges would result in the objective of bringing people into the town not being met. Parking tariffs need to be competitive. High prices will discourage people from shopping locally, and will discourage the private sector from investing in the town as they recognise the benefits of out of town retail parks, where parking is free.
The Copeland Committee should be encouraging growth and prosperity for Whitehaven Town Centre, not closing it down due to disproportionate, illegal, and unfair parking charges.