Parking problems are far from new

Date: Tuesday 10th October 2017

Sir, I read about the threat of “civil unrest” in connection with parking problems in Penrith (Herald, 7th October) and while I am sure it will not be on the scale of that in Barcelona, the issue of parking in Penrith has been there for many, many years.

This is often looked at from the various councils’ points of view, with short stay and long stay; from the shoppers’ point of view; visitors’ point of view; the residents’ viewpoint; and last but by far not least from the workers’ point of view. This is a low population district spread around a huge area. The availability of public transport in this area, we know, is limited and so cars (those metal boxes) are so important to get around.

There used to be a big car park in the middle of Penrith, at Southend Road, which was replaced with New Squares. At that time the pressure of cars on the town was growing and the idea of having car parking spaces for 1,100 cars was indicated, which would have replaced the loss of Southend Road, plus give extra parking spaces. In the end I believe there were, at most, 800 spaces.

There have been many places around the town which gave some parking spaces, but you blink and a planning application comes in for another load of houses and those parking spaces disappear.

At least 15 years ago the idea of using the site of the gasworks was mooted for a long stay car park for workers and visitors — it was contaminated land and close to the town.

I, and others, have continued to mention this to EDC over the years but got the feeling they thought there was no problem (possibly due to having convenient parking spaces at the town hall and Mansion House for the staff there).

I believe the site would have accommodated up to 300 cars. Over time, however, the EDC depot expanded and now a big chunk of the land there is being developed, assuming the issue of contamination can be sorted, for housing.

I heard recently that in Kendal a new car park has been made available solely for workers in the town at a price of £1 per day — this works with the issue of a special pass for such workers and gives a flexible arrangement for those working full-time and part-time at a reasonable rate. A similar system could have been located at the gasworks — or could still be done with the remaining land.

There has been the idea of a park and ride car park somewhere — again population is a problem but it may work.

The “civil unrest” is exasperated by the parking problems, mainly by workers. I understand that there are restrictions to be put into Scaws to help — however this just moves the problem to somewhere else and does not really solve it for the workers travelling into Penrith.

It is important to retain and establish parking locations in the town and not just build more and more houses.

There is talk of the councils — that is county, district and town — getting together with the surrounding parish councils and chamber of trade to really look at the overall parking situation.

I hope something can be done to sort it out for the future — because if not, it will just get worse. Yours etc,