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 STOKE-ON-TRENT, NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS, SOUTH CHESHIRE

Council to consider proposals for parking arrangements



Cheshire East Council’s highways and transport committee is to consider proposals for parking in the borough which seek to provide fair and consistent arrangements and respond to the significantly increasing costs of operating and maintaining car parks.

 

The proposals include:

 

·       Reducing parking charges in some car parks due to their location and usage.

·       Introducing parking charges in most car parks where parking is currently free.

·       Increasing the council’s standard parking tariffs by the rate of inflation – this would be the first increase since 2018.

 

As a result of feedback during the public consultation on proposals for parking arrangements,the council is proposing:

 

  • To keep its ‘free after 3pm’ initiative and extend this to specified car parks in towns where the introduction of charges is proposed.

  • To retain free parking at a number of smaller car parks where it is not value for money to introduce pay and display.

  • To withdraw plans to reduce the time limits at on-street parking bays.

 

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its highways and transport committee, said: “I would like to thank all those who took the time to respond to our consultation. We know that residents and businesses in some areas are very concerned about the impact on their local high street of any changes to parking.

 

“While parking charges are just one potential factor affecting consumer decisions and habits, we have listened and looked again at our proposals, and have been able to put forward some key changes.

 

“But this council – like many other local councils across the country – is facing increasing financial pressure. This is as a result of factors including construction inflation, high interest rates and costs incurred in petitioning against HS2 to secure the best possible outcomes for communities across the borough.

 

“Doing nothing and sticking with the same parking regime is not only something that we cannot afford to do but would mean that we continue with the inherited, unfair legacy where some of our residents pay to park in their local town centre, and others do not.

 

“All car parks – whether they’re free to use or not – need maintenance, management, and enforcement and the costs relating to these services have significantly increased and continue to rise.

 

“The costs associated with the ‘free’ car parks alone are around £400,000 per year.

 

“Not making difficult decisions, such as increasing parking charges, means the pressure on the council’s finances worsens even further. The result would be a reduction in other services that fall under the highways and transport committee, for example roads maintenance or bus subsidies.

 

“Fairer charges for parking also help us to deliver the council’s own published priorities, including encouraging more people to use sustainable and active modes of transport, especially for shorter journeys.”

 

The council recognises the potential of cars being displaced from car parks onto residential streets because of new charges being introduced. On a town-by-town basis, a set of potential mitigation measures has been prioritised, which take into account feedback given through the public consultation.

 

Subject to committee approving the recommendations in the report, the council will continue to monitor the impacts of the changes so that timely interventions can be made where necessary.

 

Any mitigation measures will be subject to further consultation with residents and councillors before they are introduced and could include parking zones or bays for residents, time-limited parking bays, or introducing single or double yellow lines.

 

If approved, the proposals being recommended to committee do not meet the full savings target for the parking review as included in the council’s medium-term financial strategy.

 

Therefore, the report recommends that committee considers a set of supplementary measures, to be implemented in 2024/25, to resolve a budget gap of £800,000, with five measures identified.

 

The measures, which would be subject to separate statutory public consultation if agreed by committee, include introducing a Sunday parking charge, which could achieve an income of up to £180,000 per year, and extending parking charges to cover evening periods, which could achieve an annual income of £300,000.

 

The report to committee also recommends changes to the arrangements for staff and member parking permits, as part of the council’s corporate travel plan, with consultation to take place at a later stage.

 

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