Protesters at CEC full council meeting (1)

Protesters from Audlem called on Cheshire East Council to re-think plans to introduce parking charges, saying it would impact health workers and prevent businesses relocating to town centres, writes Belinda Ryan.

Placard-waving demonstrators turned up outside yesterday’s meeting of the full council at Jodrell Bank to put their arguments to councillors before next month’s highways committee meeting, when a decision on the charges will be made.

Inside the meeting, one Holmes Chapel parish councillor Diane Tams said charging would hit health centre staff in particular, where there were just seven spaces for a practice of more than 13,000 patients.

“It may lead to congestion, as patients tried to park at the health centre rather than on the charge car park, making it difficult for our health centre staff to access the parking area,” she said.

“This would be a particular concern for those staff members who need to leave the site and return multiple times per day, as they may be forced to pay on each return. Consider the impact on patient care if staff experienced delays due to parking issues.”

Sandbach town councillor Tim Wheatcroft said the charges would “bring a terminal decline across South Cheshire high streets”.

“Any introduction or increase in car parking charges discourages lower paid workers from taking town centre jobs,” he said.

“Any volume employer considering locating to our towns is also discouraged from setting up due to the additional cost and difficulty in attracting staff as a result of parking charges.”

Audlem has just one council-owned car park.

Villager Brian Bugeja said: “The car park is there to serve our doctor’s surgery, the cemetery, the playground and our public hall.

“It’s an essential asset for the operation of our community.”

Congleton town councillor Cllr Suzy Firkin spoke on behalf of a town which does have charges.

She said the town centre was doing well at the moment and “this is why we strongly oppose the huge increases in parking charges that have been proposed for Congleton”, adding in some cases the increase proposed is 169%.

She called for a ‘modest price increase rather than a huge hike’.

Cllr Rob Moreton (Ind), who represents Congleton on Cheshire East Council, said there had been more than 600 objections in respect of one particular car park in the town.

Cllr Craig Browne (Alderley Edge, Ind) chair of highways and transport, said the “inconsistency and unfairness” of legacy arrangements, where some towns pay to park and subsidise those where parking is free, must be addressed.

He said: “All of the responses that were received by the council over that six week statutory consultation period are being carefully analysed currently by officers to help inform our next steps and advise us, as members of the committee.”

Regarding health care professionals’ ability to deliver services, Cllr Browne said: “If the council is not able to recover its costs, then this will impact on the council’s ability to deliver its services including things such as FlexiLink or other supportive bus services that many vulnerable residents rely on to access care provision.”

With respect to some proposed increases being higher than others, Cllr Browne said: “The council’s approach is essentially to attempt to ensure that arrangements across our towns are more consistent and equitable and that is why, in some cases, you will see higher increases than in others, to bring towns into some level of consistency.”


  1. The Observer says:

    Worth noting how the Audlum Councillor voted on previous parking issues around the country i.e free parking and increased parking charges.

  2. Not sure what your point is, all towns in the area should be paying for parking at same rates or none of the towns should be paying parking.

  3. There were protestors from other towns there too

  4. Why is Audlem a special case and why should the rest of Cheshire East subside Audlem .

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