A threat to the future of Chester’s ‘Free after 3’ parking policy has stirred a defiant defence of its value.
The scheme could be scrapped if one controversial proposal is successful.
Cheshire West and Chester Council have launched a consultation to determine their parking strategy moving forward.
There was a strong response to the potential loss of ‘Free after 3’ on the Chronicle’s Facebook page.
The overwhelming majority of commenters were in favour of keeping the policy.
Simon Owen posted: ”I believe the scheme to have been a success for Chester residents and should not be scrapped. The council have an obligation to make our city centre accessible.”
Businessman Steven Wundke, a former city centre manager, said any change would be ‘about revenue raising and nothing else’.
Many feared removing the scheme would mean the city centre could not compete with shopping centres at Broughton and Cheshire Oaks, where you can leave your car for free.
Danny Eastwood said: “We go in and use Linenhall car park after 2pm and then also use restaurants/ bars but would stop doing if charging was re-introduced.
“Any City council that fails to compete with free out of town retail parks are committing retail suicide.”
George Wingfield commented: “Broughton Park shopping FREE PARKING all day. Cheshire Oaks FREE PARKING all day.
“So where do you think the problem is with Chester? Remember that CWAC when discussing parking fees.”
CWaC say the move would be to even out unfairness by creating a single borough-wide pricing policy.
Chronicle readers argued removing ‘Free after 3’ could have a damaging effect on city centre businesses and those who come in regularly.
Nigel Stanway posted: “No absolutely it shouldn’t be scraped! For Chester residents the free after 3 is the lifeline to encouraging locals in to the city centre rather than the retail parks.
“Tourism will hopefully always be strong in the city but let’s look after all of us that live within Chester and can always contribute to the economy.”
But some believed the city had enough pulling power to keep visitors coming in despite a charge.
Fiona Jones commented: “Our fantastic centre centre offers so much more than the out-of-towns. It it worth paying to have the parking facilities.
“I would rather pay for a car park, put up with the odd pothole, and even dog poo, if it means the council can care for the elderly and disabled.”
Should Chester's 'Free after 3' parking policy be retained?
0+ VOTES SO FAR
A number of drop-in sessions are taking place across the borough to give residents the opportunity to give their views. The consultation ends on February 24, 2017.
For more details and to offer comments, visit: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/parkingstrategy or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.