Parking charges - councillors voted against plan

Plans to introduce parking charges in towns where it is currently free, have been controversially scrapped by Cheshire East Council, writes Belinda Ryan.

If approved, charges would have been introduced in Middlewich, Alsager, Holmes Chapel, Sandbach and other towns in line with Nantwich, Crewe, and Macclesfield.

But applause and cheers rang out from the public gallery yesterday (September 21) as members of the highways and transport committee voted by eight to five against the proposal to go out to public consultation on the charges.

Speaking after the decision, Middlewich councillor Mike Hunter (Lab), who voted against the new charging proposals, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It is dead in the water.

“It does present us with problems down the line budget wise – we have got to find £1 million.

“But, at the end of the day, as you can tell from the people that were in this hall and the amount of people that were against these parking charges, it’s a victory for residents, not just in Middlewich but in Alsager and Holmes Chapel and other places around Cheshire East, and that’s what matters.

“We’re here about the residents. It’s not party, it’s residents. Town before party.”

Earlier, during the meeting, Cllr Hunter had pointed out that parents used some of the car parks in Middlewich to pick up their children from school.

He said they would not pay to park for the school run.

Wilmslow councillor Don Stockton (Con) asked why the council had not done the review on a town by town basis instead of proposing a standardised charge across the borough.

“Standardisation is not the way forward in my mind,” said Cllr Stockton.

He added: “Parking isn’t just about car parking charges, it’s about the vitality of the towns.

“It’s about the fact when people try and avoid car parking charges they’ll just go and park on the street outside someone’s house and the residents will get upset.”

He was applauded by the public when he said he could not support what was proposed and that each car park and each town should be considered on its own merit.

At the beginning of the meeting, several members of the public had addressed the committee and some had used a similar argument.

Committee chair Craig Browne (Alderley Edge, Ind) told the meeting there was a cost to providing car parks and ‘those who use the service should be the ones who pay for it’.

In towns such as Nantwich, Crewe, Macclesfield, Knutsford and Wilmslow drivers have paid for years to park.

But Willaston and Rope councillor Allen Gage (Con) said he did not back the consultation as it stood on introducing charges across the borough and voted against it.

He later told the LDRS he wanted to see the introduction of charges on free car parks in the north of the borough to produce a net reduction on charges for Crewe and Nantwich.

“If they’re going to introduce car parking charges in the north, where there’s a lot of free car parks there, it’s only fair that historical legacies are addressed in the south,” said Cllr Gage.

“We’ve been paying over the odds, so I would like to see the levy in the north help to subsidise the south.

“That’s only fair. We should be even across the board, which would bring the net down because we’re not charging more.”

Crewe councillor Hazel Faddes (Lab) told the committee: “I fully support this consultation.”

The recommendations, which had been put forward by the Labour/Independent administration, would have seen all towns and villages pay the same rate on paid-for council-owned car parks.

A zonal charging scheme would have been introduced. All those proposals have now been scrapped.

Cheshire East now faces another headache. It had banked on the extra charges bringing in more than £1 million.

That now won’t happen.

4 Comments

  1. LMB says:

    “…it’s a victory for residents, not just in Middlewich but in Alsager and Holmes Chapel and other places around Cheshire East, and that’s what matters.”

    Could Councillor Mike Hunter explain how this is a victory for residents of places like Crewe and Nantwich, who will continue to pay to park their cars while residents of other towns in Cheshire East will continue to enjoy free parking? This is completely unjust – either we should all be charged or none of us should be charged. Will Mike Hunter now be campaigning for free car parking throughout Cheshire East?

  2. JMF says:

    Given the members of the transport committee, the result was a foregone conclusion. What a waste of tax payers money, waste of effort from all the consultees etc etc.

    I agree with the above comments, this result should lead to free parking in Nantwich & Crewe – how about a campaign? Do these “free” towns think we will take this lying down?

  3. Brian says:

    Just as I predicted.
    Crewe is the poorest town ……but will continue to pay the highest car park charges…….whilst NINE much wealthier towns pay no car park charges and NEVER have.
    Labour run Cheshire East has let down Crewe residents yet again.

  4. Peter says:

    Now make parking free in Crewe and Nantwich. Whatever money is currently raised does not go to improving the state of the car parks here; the Civic Hall car park has had a dreadful surface for years. Free parking would bring more trade to the towns.

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