CHESHIRE East Conservatives are calling on the Labour-Independent Coalition council to offer free parking to shoppers over the festive period.
The group, which has launched an online petition asking for public support, said the proposals would offer the borough’s town centre traders with an essential and welcome boost once the current lockdown ends, whilst also encouraging residents to shop local.
Fill in the Petition by clicking on this link: https://www.cheshireeastconservatives.co.uk/car-parking-petition
In a proposal to the council, Group leader Cllr Janet Clowes and Cllr Stewart Gardiner said they want car park charges suspended from 3 December, after lockdown, until 17 January.
Cllr Clowes said: “Covid-19 has had an immense impact on businesses, families and individuals, and despite significant Government support for businesses throughout the pandemic, our wider economy now and in the longer term, is dependent on ensuring our small and medium businesses are able to maintain trading.
“Too many Cheshire East businesses are struggling to weather the Covid storm and if they fail, the potential associated loss of business rates, redundancies and rising demand for council services must be an important consideration for this Council, at what is normally the busiest time of year for town centre traders.”
Janet added that they understand that there will be a financial cost in relation to this proposal at a time when this council is experiencing significant financial pressure and so have suggested a number of measures to help.
She said: “We suggest that only Cheshire East-owned car parks, that directly serve the borough’s towns, be included in the scheme and that the ‘free-parking’ offer is restricted to specific times, for example Shropshire County Council has launched a free parking initiative between 11am and 6.00pm from 3rd December to 17th January 2021 and Trafford Council has already launched a ‘Free after Three’ initiative that runs from Monday to Saturday until 11th January.”
Ordinarily, Cheshire East Council could expect to receive approximately £385,000.00 in car park fees over a four-week period.
Janet highlighted that any potential loss would be further mitigated by the implementation of a scheme that adheres to specific times when the offer will be in place and the exclusion of non-town centre / service centre car parks from the scheme. The council would also still be able to claim back from the Government any loss of car park income on those car parks that are not included in the scheme.
She said: “This Council’s support of economic activity during this critical period in the run-up to Christmas and January sales is vital and as such, the removal of car parking charges in the ways so ably demonstrated by our local authority neighbours in Shropshire and Trafford, should be viewed as an investment, with a monetary and social value for Cheshire East residents and businesses that far outweighs any loss of car park income during this short period.”
Whilst this request has been submitted as a 'Notice of Motion' to Council on 16th December, it has been submitted in advance so that Cheshire East Council can consider the initiative now, in time for its implementation to coincide with the lifting of Covid Restrictions before the December Council Meeting.
(1) Shropshire Scheme: https://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/11/free-parking/#:~:text=Free%20parking%20in%20Shropshire%20Council%20car%20parks%20from%203%20December%20to%2017%20January,-Related%20topics%3A%20Coronavirus&text=Parking%20will%20be%20free%20from,once%20the%20current%20lockdown%20ends.
(3) CEC Car Park Income Summary 2017-2020: https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/pdf/car-parks-and-parking/car-park-income-summary-2017-to-2020.pdf