Monday, September 22, 2008

Regenerating Whitehaven

My colleague and fellow Bransty councillor Allan Mossop had an excellent letter in this week's Whitehaven news about the need for more action to prevent the decline of our local economy.

Highlights from his letter include:

SIR – Yet another shop (Steve’s Paints) in Whitehaven town centre is closing down. When is Copeland Council going to stop sleepwalking into disaster and do something to stop the decline of the town centre?

At the meeting in the Civic Hall a few months ago ... a number of suggestions were put forward that might have helped to stop the drip, drip of business closures in and around the town. To date, so far as I am aware, absolutely nothing has been acted on as a result of that meeting.

This newspaper made an offer to be part of the initiative, and relay any events or happenings to the public. Up to now the only news items have been regarding book-keeping practices within the council finance department worthy of any banana republic, plus a totally unacceptable planning procedure. Any business acting the same way would have had their collar felt by HM Revenue or the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform.

Many suggestions put forward at the Civic Hall meeting could have been introduced by the ruling cabinet long before now, except they are blind to what is going on around them.

I suggested a relaxing of the parking restrictions, and the first hour, or half-hour free: nothing has been done. Instead we have a force of traffic wardens who actually enjoy putting tickets on vehicles for the flimsiest excuse.

Instead of going on expensive “bonding weekends” the ruling elite should take a trip to those towns which have abolished parking restrictions and charges within town centres. These are the only towns who have reversed the trend of business closures.

The council sees parking charges as a source of revenue but in fact are bleeding our high streets dry by driving shoppers away. Whether they like it or not, the car is here to stay and should be accommodated favourably and encouraged into town instead of encouraged to out-of-town stores with free parking.

You can read the full letter on the Whitehaven News Economist website here.

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