Parking charges look set to be reviewed across Cheshire East

By Belinda Ryan - Local Democracy Reporter

26th Nov 2022 | Local News

Could parking charges be introduced in Sandbach?
Could parking charges be introduced in Sandbach?

Parking charges look set to be reviewed across Cheshire East as the council struggles to balance its books because of soaring inflation costs.

Plans to introduce pay and display in towns such as Middlewich, Sandbach and Alsager – which don't currently pay to park – and to review charges in those towns that do, were scuppered last year when the council's highways committee voted against the plan, which was expected to bring in an additional £1m in revenue.

Now a review of the council's parking charging policy looks to be on the cards again after the financial review of this current year revealed a projected reduction of £1.3m in parking income.

Cllr Craig Browne (Ind), who is chair of the council's highways and transport committee, told Thursday's (November 24) meeting it was reassuring 'in inverted commas', that highways had only an overall £500,000 projected variance at year end when compared to the budget set, because it was much higher for some of the council's other committees.

Cllr Craig Browne

The Alderley Edge councillor said: "We are going to have to look, as a committee going forward, at how we reduce our costs, but also how we might look to increase revenue through means other than simply just council tax and I fear that, amongst other things, clearly, that is going to mean re-visiting parking charges, which this committee has discussed previously."

He added: "Looking at the financial tables [in the report presented to Thursday's highways meeting], it's just so painfully obvious that a reduction in parking income is the single biggest contributor to that variance at this time."

Cheshire East's parking policy has been controversial from the outset.

When the council was formed in 2009, it inherited three different charging policies from the former Crewe & Nantwich, Congleton and Macclesfield borough councils.

Congleton borough didn't have parking charges whereas the other two councils did and Cheshire East has changed very little since – other than to hike up the prices in those towns such as Crewe, Nantwich, Macclesfield and Knutsford, which do pay.

Most towns which were under the former Congleton Borough Council still remain free – although charges were introduced in the town of Congleton itself.

No mention was made at Thursday's meeting of when any review would be considered by the committee or whether it would take the form of the previous proposal, which was knocked back in September of last year.

Those proposals, which failed, would have seen all towns and villages pay the same rate on paid-for council-owned car parks. A zonal charging scheme would also have been introduced.

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