President's Blog - May 2014

19th May, 2014

In a way of an update I thought I would bring you up to speed with what has been happening with  various items in which the Chamber has been involved.

On everyone’s lips at the moment is the issue over on street parking charges.

Despite frenetic opposition by the Chamber and other business bodies, Cumbria County Council (CCC) have confirmed that these will go ahead throughout the County including Penrith.

What we are now left with is the task of trying to get some positives from what is a major negative for the town. Meetings are planned between various business bodies, the Local Eden committee of CCC and CCC Highways, who ultimately have to implement the charges.

On a lighter note you will have seen the bunting in the town has been left up after May Day and after talks between the Lions Club and Highways. It was felt that this will provide a splash of colour to the town centre throughout the summer. My thanks go out to the Lions for their help in this regard and hopefully we can work closer together over the years to come.

In addition the Chamber has been involved in organising the hanging baskets in the town and hopefully these will appear over the next 4 to 6 weeks. My thanks go out to the town Ambassadors for their help in encouraging businesses to get involved in this ‘Penrith Partnership’ initiative. However it is tinged with disappointment that there are not more businesses involved in an initiative which brings so much colour to the town centre.

We are also hoping that hanging baskets will be going up on the lamp posts in Middlegate and King Street but at the time of writing we are still awaiting confirmation from Cumbria Highways.

Talking about Highways, I attended a recent meeting about the project to reopen the Penrith to Keswick Railway line.

I can hear you say ‘That will never happen’. I was of the same mind until I heard the pros of a reopening.

The benefits to the local economy, tourism and the environment would be huge.

However there is one major problem – is there the political will to do it?

Cost wise it would be a whole lot cheaper than duelling the A66 which is being talked about (£3M a mile against £25M a mile for new road).

Another meeting is planned for July which will involve all interested stakeholders so we will then see if there is the will to see this future plan flourish.

In any event I am to invite Cedric Martindale (the man who has spent over 20 years on the project) to a future meeting of the Chamber to give us all an update.

Finally it is not long now to the Annual Dinner and Stars of Business Awards. Thanks goes out to all those who have already booked their tickets and voted for their ‘stars’. I am sure it will prove to be another great night.

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