cross-party CEC car park charges - parking charges recommenced on 15th June (3) (1)

Car parking charges look set to be introduced in Middlewich, Sandbach, Alsager and other Cheshire East towns which are free at the moment, writes Belinda Ryan.

Sunday charging is also on the cards, with Cheshire East planning to introduce a flat £1 rate for stays longer than an hour across all council-owned paying car parks in the borough on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Altogether, eight towns and villages which do not pay to park at the moment, including Bollington, Handforth, Holmes Chapel, Poynton and Prestbury, could see charges introduced from next spring.

Councillors in Nantwich and Crewe have labelled the current system unfair for a number of years and have called for parity as their towns face the highest charges in the borough.

Cheshire East is expected to undertake a 30-day public consultation on the proposals at the end of this month.

A report due to go before Tuesday’s (September 21) meeting of the highways and transport committee states: “For historic reasons, the borough has operated with inconsistent car parking tariffs and charging mechanisms, with some places still providing free car parking.

“These arrangements are unfair and represent a significant opportunity in relation to the revenue that could be created to support the strategic transport and highway related objectives of the council.”

The new pay and display policy, if approved, will see zonal tariffs introduced.

Central car parks, that is those within 300m or a five minute walk from the town centre, will be in zone one – the highest charging band – and charges will start at 40p for up to 30 minutes or 80p for the first hour.

‘Edge of centre or out of centre’ car parks will be within the cheaper zone two and charges will be 30p for the first 30 minutes and 60p for up to an hour.

The new parking policy will see drivers in all towns paying the same.

The charges only apply to council owned car parks.

The highest fee – for those parking between six to 10 hours – will be £5.60 in zone one and £3.40 in zone two.

Middlewich councillor Mike Hunter (Lab) isn’t happy with the new proposals.

Cllr Hunter told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “Cheshire East has a duty to look at ways in which to revive its town centres.

“It also has a duty to maximise its revenue streams and Cheshire East will be pushed by government to maximise this particular revenue stream.

“However, I will not support any flat charge on car parks throughout this borough.

“I understand that it could leave us in a tricky position revenue wise, but our town centres need reviving not destroying and this car parking charge will play to that scenario in such towns as Middlewich, Holmes Chapel, Sandbach etc.

“There is also fundamental flaws with the zoning system, because there are car parks that appear to be in the incorrect zone.”

Some car parks in some towns would remain free.

The council says this is where they support community facilities that are not in town or village centres; where they are primarily used by residents without access to off street parking or where there is a legal reason why charges are precluded at a given site, for example the historic green status at Scotch Common in Sandbach.

Council officers are recommending councillors at next week’s meeting of the highways committee approve the principle of standardised parking zones being applied to the borough’s car parks and approve the principle of zone parking tariffs.

They are also being asked to approve a 30 day consultation with the public on the proposed changes.

The highways committee meeting takes place on Tuesday, September 21 at 10.30am at Macclesfield Town Hall.

Further information on which particular car parks are in which zone and which will still remain free is available by visiting the calendar of meetings on the council’s website and clicking on the link for the highways and transport committee on September 21.

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