Traders from Cockermouth have handed over a petition containing almost 2,000 signatures - including one from Lord Melvyn Bragg - to council chiefs in Allerdale. The document urges councillors to help the flood-hit town’s recovery by offering some free car parking provision. Business owners say this is vital to boost visitor numbers and increase trade.
The petition was presented to Councillor Alan Smith, of the All Saints Cocker mouth Ward, by Chamber members, in preparation for a meeting of the Council’s Executive this Summer. Councillor Smith said that the volume of signatures means that the Council must now have a full debate about the issue.
Dave Siddall, Clerk to Cockermouth & District Chamber of Trade, said: “We would like to thank everyone who has given us their support and signed the petition . The signatories included a couple from South Carolina who came for the Georgian Fair and told me that in the United States, towns do all they can to encourage visitors, not chase them out of town with high parking charges.
“Supermarkets are growing in market share partly thanks to free edge-of-town car parking, while traditional town centres are seeing a steady business decline partly due to the recent growth of what I call the Car Parking Tax. Every pound spent in such superstores is one pound less spent in traditional towns such as Cockermouth. Allerdale has the ability to help the shops and businesses that make up the town recover from the floods. For all the small shops in Cockermouth, as they say - you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
When Allerdale Council first declined the Chamber’s requests for free car parking provision, Chamber chairman Jonty Chippendale said: “The feeling is that they are kicking Cockermouth while it’s down. For them not to offer any help is a reflection of how little they understand traders in Cockermouth. The council need to think outside the box a bit more and cannot seem to follow the logic that free parking would encourage people back into the town.”
Shop owner and Chamber member Paul Carr, from Firn’s Home Hardware in Station Street, added: “All we are asking Allerdale Council to do is explore options to stop the excessive car parking charging that is discouraging people from coming into this town.”