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Parking charges across Cheshire East must be made fairer, councillors have warned, after a new five-year plan hinted at more fees, writes Stephen Topping.

Members of Cheshire East Council have approved the local authority’s local transport plan for up to 2024.

The key document sets the agenda for improving sustainable transport links across the borough – with new cycleways, electric vehicle charging points, safe walking routes to school and bus rapid transit routes all key priorities.

But members across the political divide were alarmed by the plan’s suggestions for parking charges – which could include introducing fees on Sundays and at evenings for towns where there is a thriving night-time economy such as Nantwich.

Cllr Peter Groves, Conservative member for Nantwich South and Stapeley, said: “Are we really going to make worshippers pay to pray [on Sundays]?”

Councillors from Crewe and Nantwich said that parking charges in their towns are already the highest in the borough – and warned against adding further fees.

Cllr Suzanne Brookfield, Labour member for Crewe East, said: “The area that has the highest levels of deprivation and socio-economic problems has the highest car parking fees.

“I would implore the decision makers – please, please, please do not implement any further charges to residents in those areas that already pay so much. It simply is not fair.”

Her concerns were shared by Cllr Arthur Moran, independent member for Nantwich North and West, who said it would be ‘unfair’ to charge people on Sundays and evenings – particularly those who use council car parks at night as they have nowhere else to park their car.

“I would hope that there will be some scrutiny of this at the appropriate time before some of the items in it are implemented in the budget,” he added.

Cllr Rod Fletcher, Liberal Democrat member for Alsager, warned the move could lead to more cars parking on residential streets.

And the disparity between towns with parking charges and those without – such as Sandbach – was slammed by Cllr Sarah Pochin, Conservative member for Bunbury, who claimed towns with free parking have an ‘unfair advantage’.

But Cllr Sam Corcoran, CEC’s Labour leader, insisted no decisions on parking charges have been made – and claimed the transport plan “isn’t a one-way street to increased charges” with the possibility of quiet car parks becoming cheaper.

The council is now set to begin work on “town delivery plans” over the next two years, which will look at how specific policies can be drawn up to fit with the local transport plan – including parking.

Independent Cllr Craig Browne, CEC’s deputy leader, added: “Parking tariffs and charges actually sit outside the scope of this report. It’s a policy framework document – not a delivery plan.

“Our intention would be to bring forward detailed proposals related to car parking tariffs based on detailed studies and the dynamics in each town.

“This is something that would be consulted on anyway, on an annual basis, as part of the budget-setting process.

“It’s not something that would be detailed in this report.”

Members approved the plan by 29 votes to 19, with 23 abstentions.

6 Comments

  1. Agree with Paul, reasonable charges OK, but MUST be the same across Ches East. It’s the old Congleton borough that’s the problem, Congleton itself has charges but for 9-5 only, the other towns have no charges at all. JUST NOT FAIR.

  2. I no longer go in to Crewe or Nantwich because of parking charges. I already pay a huge amount in council tax, car tax, income tax, VAT, etc, etc…..let’s increase taxi and bus fares too then force everyone to shop online!
    It’s an absolute disgrace and every councillor that made this suggestion should be fired!
    So much for encouraging people to go in to our towns!

  3. I have no problem with parking charges but should be limited to 9-5, 7 days a week and the same charge across ALL towns under Cheshire East.

  4. We need to be trying to keep our Town alive , not deterring people , to use places where they can park free and save money. The Nantwich Businesses suffer , every time. The stress is also put on the Businesses as ppl need to get OUT of town sooner , rather than enjoy a meal or a stroll etc. Its actually a Policy that will damage, not enhance the Council , in the course of time.

    • May, totally agree. Those with cars will, occasionally, opt to dine at out-of-town venues. We need to be encouraged rather than deterred from using the town as our preferred leisure venue. If anything, fees should be waivered, with everyone likely to benefit as a result.

    • It’s not difficult to park for free in Nantwich. Are people so lazy they can’t be bothered to walk for 5 minutes.

      It’s all very well saying remove all parking charges, but if all the car parks were free then they would simply be filled from 8.30am until 5pm and then people would be moaning there was nowhere to park.

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