Parking charge 'stealth tax would hit families'
Town councillors have told Cheshire East Council that they will oppose any plans to introduce parking charges in Sandbach.
At a town council meeting last Thursday they voted against bringing in charges. The controversial fees were reintroduced by Cheshire East in other towns to coincide with the reopening of non-essential retail in June after having been suspended during the lockdown.
At the time, Sandbach Labour councillor Laura Crane, Cheshire East's Cabinet member for highways and waste, was asked that if she was worried about revenue from parking why not introduce charges in places such as Sandbach and Holmes Chapel.
She said “that's something we are looking at and unfortunately the crisis did slow us down on that one”, adding “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 do require a public consultation and we're just unable to do that at the moment with the crisis in place.”
Coun Crane said she had spoken to traders “who would be in favour of some form of parking charges in Sandbach”.
However at last Thursday's Sandbach Town Council meeting the majority of councillors voted in favour of Independent Town councillor David Jack's proposal to oppose any suggestion or plan to impose parking charges of any type within the parish boundaries of Sandbach.
Coun Jack said: “Businesses have been exceptionally hard hit by covid-19 restrictions and continue to face an uphill struggle in uncertain financial times.
“Many of the households have also been affected by the financial implications of covid-19 and to bring in a stealth tax that will hit many families using the town will be wrong, even the consideration of it, in my opinion, would be wrong.”
Cheshire East Council's plan to impose parking charges on many towns across the borough comes on the back of its budget concerns as it aims to generate a fresh source of income.
Coun Jack added: It's not the business of Sandbach Town Council to concern itself with the running of budgetary management of Cheshire East Council, but rather it’s our remit to represent the local residents and the businesses of Sandbach.”
The proposal was seconded by Independent town councillor Kieran Seymour who said he believed parking charges would have a detrimental effect on the town, adding: “I oppose it in any way at all.”
He said: “To bring in parking charges would have a detrimental affect on the businesses, the way people shop in Sandbach and the local economy.
“I think from speaking to residents, businesses or anyone involved in Sandbach, the idea of bringing in parking charges the vast majority would oppose.”
Conservative councillor Steve Kirkham agreed, reminding the town council that “we should be supporting our local residents”.
Coun Kirkham said: “There is a groundswell of opinion in Sandbach that they are completely opposed to any form of parking charge.
“I do believe it is something negative for businesses so I am very much opposed to it. We are here to represent them. We are not here to represent the rest of Cheshire East.
“Cheshire East's arrangement has nothing to do with us as Sandbach town councillors. We should be supporting our local residents.”
Cheshire East has not yet set a date for a consultation on parking charges.