MARK Jenkinson MP has called for urgent action to reopen Cockermouth amid claims Cumberland Council is “killing” the town in the run up to Christmas.
His comments come seven weeks after the partial collapse of the Old Courthouse forced the closure of a major road into the town.
The bridge over the Cocker has been closed to traffic ever since October 8th, causing unprecedented congestion and hitting trade on the high street in what is typically one of the busiest times of the year.
Mark criticised the local authority for being slow to act after it emerged officers did not meet with Historic England until three days after the collapse of the Grade II listed landmark.
He said: “The facade of the building should have been secured by now and the road reopened. It is staggering that the council did not meet with Historic England until three days after the building’s collapse. What were they doing?
“It is also shocking that they applied for an unnecessary warrant even though the owner of the Old Courthouse had already offered entry.
“Leading officers tell me the council has moved swiftly in dealing with this serious matter. Yet Cumberland’s heel-dragging indicates the very opposite is true. They are killing Cockermouth.
“When they finally deigned to take overdue ‘emergency’ action, it was too little too late: closing the proverbial stable door after the proverbial horse has bolted.
“The council’s true level of culpability – which I suspect will be very great – is a question for another day. Right now, we need action.
“Every day they delay on this, trade is suffering in the town. There is traffic gridlock in the streets.
“It is bad enough that we have seen the collapse of an iconic Grade II listed building in the heart of the town, a situation that was completely avoidable had action been taken sooner.
But the very least the residents and traders of Cockermouth deserve is quick and decisive action to reopen the road and secure what’s left of the building.”
Mark has been in talks with Historic England, the Environment Agency and with the building owner in a bid to speed up the reopening of the town.
He has also requested a timeframe for the works to be carried out but is still awaiting specific information on when this is likely to be.