United front against any plans for parking charges
Town councillors have united against any future plans for parking charges in the town centre, warning that they would be the “death of Alsager”.
The town council voted unanimously in favour of lobbying Cheshire East to reiterate its opinion that all car parks in Alsager should remain free to use.
The prospect of parking charges reared its head again earlier this month when town centre shops reopened as lockdown restrictions were eased.
When Coun Laura Crane, Cheshire East's Cabinet member for highways and waste, was asked about it she said: “That's something we are looking at and unfortunately the crisis did slow us down on that one.”
She added: We've got local town plans that we've been putting into place and parking reviews were all scheduled to be happening unfortunately during this time.
“They require a public consultation and we're just unable to do that at the moment with the crisis in place.”
At a meeting last week, Alsager Town Council chairman and Lib Dem councillor Rod Fletcher said: “I'm concerned by some of the comments made by Cheshire East councillors over the last 12 to 18 months. Some councillors from Macclesfield and Nantwich have been saying 'we pay, you pay'.”
Coun Fletcher explained that the same councillors who voted for parking charges to be enforced in Alsager, voted against car parking charges to be implemented in similar sized towns in the borough.
He said: “Crewe and Nantwich town councils didn't put them up in places like Audlem because they don't have the same retail offer, so they shouldn't have to pay. Likewise Macclesfield council, it doesn't charge in Handforth because it has a smaller retail offer.
“So I'm afraid I find it very, very annoying when these same councillors are saying Alsager and Sandbach should pay when we are a similar sized town to the ones that they excluded.”
Agreeing with Coun Fletcher, fellow Lib Dem councillor Derek Hough labelled Cheshire East as “devious”, saying that in spite of “all their fancy talk” their quotation is that Cheshire East will break-even on their car parking.
Coun Hough said: “We should have a coordinated response. It would be the death of Alsager.
“When Cheshire East comes knocking on our door saying 'what do you think? we should all be singing from the same songsheet.
“My proposal is that we oppose the car parking charges, because we don't think Alsager will survive.”
Consolidating the town council's position, Conservative councillor Sue Helliwell called for a “united front”.
She said: “I just want the town council to come together collectively, because what has happened in the past was said in the past, and I do think we need to support Alsager residents and businesses.
“When this consultation does come out, I'd like this to be a united front. We could have a stall at the market on a Wednesday and give details on the town council website saying that we have came together to make sure that our businesses don't suffer.”
Lid Dem councillor Jane Buckley also backed the unified approach and was concerned that parking charges could have a knock-on affect on people living on side streets.
Coun Buckley said: “If they put in car parking charges, people will then start parking on the side streets and they'll be filled with double yellow lines.
Quite a lot of those side streets don't have a lot of off road parking so you're going to ruin the lifestyle of people who have visitors, care workers, friends and family.”
She added: “At the moment we've got three shops that aren't going to reopen because of the coronavirus. It could get worse. Car parking charges and double yellow lines will just ruin our town.”
Cheshire East Council confirmed that when any proposals for parking charges were finalised, they will be put out for the statutory public consultation period.