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£55k car park refurb plan ‘waste of money’

Plans are underway for more than £55,000 to be spent on the refurbishment of Cedar Avenue Car Park in Alsager.

The land has been transferred to the town council from Cheshire East Council. According to a report by the town authority’s finance manager the total cost of the project is expected to be £55,583, with £2,000 of that going towards the “provision for legal fees”.

However, the decision to lease the pothole strewn informal car park, which includes a right of way, from the borough council was met with opposition from one resident who claimed it was a waste of the town’s money.

Speaking during the public participation section of last Tuesday’s full town council meeting, Sylvia Dyke said: “It was being used for quite some time to park some cars on. You’re going to have all the potholes filled in. Why lease it when Cheshire East will let you park there?

“Where’s the advantage of leasing this piece of land? Also, by making that a car park haven’t you reduced the number of cars that can use it because now you have to have a designated right of way?

“If you have been parking there for all those years, why do you need to suddenly lease it? You surely can’t think Cheshire East is going to sell a piece of land with a right of way on it!”

The town council had decided in November that the Community Infrastructure Levy money would fund the project. The levy is a charge that local authorities can place on a new development in order to raise money to help fund the infrastructure, facilities and services – such as schools or transport improvements – needed to support new homes and businesses.

The town council currently has £94,237 in its levy allocation with one further payment of £40,654 due in April.

Responding to Mrs Dyke, Coun June Buckley said: “The reason we’re leasing the land is because you wouldn’t do work on something you haven’t got control of.

“It’s a way through to the housing estate and a four-way walking path, but it’s really quite difficult to make it through due to the potholes.

“I don’t see what’s wrong with having a decent parking space. The residents who live down there haven’t complained about it and I don’t see why there’s an objection.”

The car park is located off Cedar Avenue and beside St Gabriel’s RC Primary School, the 1st Alsager Scout Group and near the Cedar Avenue allotments.

Coun Derek Hough, who labelled the potholes a “disgrace”, reminded colleagues that the project was a council “priority”, explained that the “whole school” was using it due to construction on site, and that the public right of way ran through the car park.

The plans would include marking for formal parking spaces, although as the public footpath must be unaffected it could mean a reduction in the number of spaces.

Coun Michael Unett said: “At the moment, Cheshire East is in full control and isn’t doing anything about it. We’re leasing it because we need control on that site. We need to have at least some kind of ownership of that land.

“I don’t believe there’s any formal parking spaces on the site itself. The works may mean a reduction in parking spaces but it would protect that right of way.”

Coun Rod Fletcher added: “Cheshire East is responsible for ensuring that people can walk safely across a right of way, and we’re prepared to work with Cheshire East.”

Other priorities for the use of Alsager’s community infrastructure levy money, voted for by the town council in November, were improvements to Milton Park’s entrance, Sandbach Road South Car Park, increased cctv footage through the town centre and increased provision of disabled equipment at all play areas.

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