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Monday, 06 July 2015

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Cumbria towns urged to unite against parking meters

A RETAIL vitality expert in Windermere has called for towns across Cumbria to unite in their fight against on-street parking fees.

expertise ‘The Shop Doctor’ Bill Smith is calling on opponents of on-street parking fees in towns across Cumbria – including Ambleside, pictured – to unite STUART WALKER 50025129F003

Windermere Town Councillor Bill Smith, who offers help and advice to town centre businesses across the country, claims the ‘strength in numbers’ approach could make Cumbria County Council bosses sit up and listen.

A potential link up with opponents in Barrow, Ambleside, Carlisle, Maryport and Whitehaven, as well as other areas in Cumbria being readied for parking meters, is now set to be discussed at a public meeting next week.

Cllr Smith, who is known as ‘The Shop Doctor’ in his field as a small towns regeneration specialist, told the Evening Mail: “On the one hand, it’s great that individual towns are putting their cases forward as to how this will impact their communities.

“But a united front with all towns working together in opposing the move could also be a powerful tool in urging the authority to sit up and listen to what people are saying.”

The meeting is planned for next Thursday, June 5, at The Ladyholme Centre, in Windermere, at 7.30pm.

It is being hosted by a new Windermere and Bowness Action Group – set up as a result of strong community opposition to the on-street parking charges dubbed a ‘stealth tax’ by residents.

Cllr Smith said: “This is an issue that people feel strongly about but nobody seems willing to listen to our concerns.

“Perhaps an opposition group that had a greater geographical spread would manage to get the decision makers to look at this again.”

But Cllr Jo Stephenson, the man tasked with balancing the authority’s books as well as representing the views of Windermere and Bowness, claimed the introduction of the system was fair.

“There’s an enormous amount of hysteria on this subject at the moment,” he said.

“The people who elected me are entitled to my hard work and my judgment, and my judgment tells me that this modest charging scheme will not significantly affect the local economy.”

Cllr Stephenson added: “This is in fact a way to ensure the people who come here to enjoy our beautiful landscape contribute in some small way.”

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