Tories challenge controversial parking decision in Cheshire East

By Belinda Ryan - Local Democracy Reporter

19th Feb 2024 | Local News

Tories have challenged the proposal to introduce parking charges in formerly free care parks. Image credit: Nub News.
Tories have challenged the proposal to introduce parking charges in formerly free care parks. Image credit: Nub News.

Cheshire East Tories are challenging the decision to introduce parking charges in free towns and hike up prices in others saying flawed data was used and relevant information wasn't considered.

Former council leader Rachel Bailey (Audlem, Con) has called-in last month's highways committee decision to implement a new charging policy across Cheshire East and asked that it be referred to full council for further debate.

The call-in is based on the grounds the committee:

  • failed to consider all relevant council policies as part of the decision making process;
  • failed to correct or address inaccuracies and flawed income projections within the committee report;
  • failed to consider all relevant information both from the consultation and also information provided by members of the public and visiting councillors at the meeting itself.

Disley councillor Sue Adams (Con) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the council had even factored in projected income from car park spaces it didn't own in her ward.

"The income projections for Disley Community Centre car park used in the consultation report were wrong, leading to a material overstatement of projected income," said Cllr Adams.

"The number of car park spaces used in the calculation of income included car park spaces owned by Disley Parish Council and Peaks and Plains Housing Trust.

"I stated the correct number of spaces in my consultation responses.

"Cheshire East cannot charge for spaces they do not own.

"These facts appear to have been consistently ignored throughout the consultation and at the subsequent meeting."

Cllr Adams said in October she invited Cheshire East officers to Disley to meet with her and parish councillors to discuss the concerns. That invitation was not accepted.

Sixteen Conservative councillors have put their name to the call-in.

No decision has yet been made as to whether the matter will be referred to full council.

Cllr Bailey told the LDRS: "One of the reasons I am seeking a call-in to council is that all policies weren't considered as part of the council's recommendation to committee.

"For example, the Cheshire East Rural Action Plan 2022 – 2026 emphasises the need to support visitor and cultural economy and rural based businesses, yet this policy is silent in both the strategies and papers presented to [highways] committee in January.

"Another [reason] is mitigation is unclear.

"Audlem strategy suggests a possible spend of £20,000, yet there is no budget and, in view of the council's poor fiscal position, how can residents be assured of interventions to address displacement of vehicles?"

Campaigners from Audlem were among a number of objectors from towns across the borough who spoke at the highways and transport committee meeting on January 25.

Among the changes the committee voted in favour of are introducing charges in the existing 'free' towns of Alsager, Audlem, Bollington, Handforth, Holmes Chapel, Middlewich, Poynton, Prestbury and Sandbach; increasing tariffs at most car parks where charging already exists and ending the scheme whereby users of Crewe and Nantwich leisure centres get their parking costs refunded.

     

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