HALF of Crewe town centre's free parking spaces could be scrapped as part of a major overhaul of the borough's charging scheme.
The board of Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council will tomorrow decide whether to approve plans which would see 179 of the town centre's 358 free spaces at sites including Browning Street, Edleston Road and Wood Street switched to pay-and-display.
The changes also include controversial proposals to offer residents permits on a 'first out of the hat' basis, sparking fears that some home-owners will miss out altogether.
The blow will be softened by the conversion of sites at Edward Street, Lord Street, South Street and Union Street to residents-only parking, although the £250 levied per permit is likely to remain unpopular.
With typical charges expected to range from 50p an hour to £2 a day, the council estimates it can raise an extra £50,000 a year in revenue from the changes, which will also include increases in existing parking charges and to penalty notices.
In her report to the council board, Cllr Penny Butterill, portfolio holder for the local environment, said: 'Increased revenue represents a more efficient use of council resources.
'Bringing free car parks into charge will mean that warden patrols can justifiably increase, thereby improving security.
'The new and amended orders are also geared to improve circulation and regulate car use and thereby reduce congestion and emissions in the town centre.'
But Cllr David Brickhill, chairman of the local economy and environment committee which drew up the recommendations, said he still had reservations about the wisdom of the move going ahead.
He said: 'I am very worried about the impact this will have on the town centre.
'Clearly this is going to have an adverse impact on on-street parking and people working in the town.
'I don't like the word 'lottery' regarding the allocation of resident's parking.
'It all depends on whether there are more people wanting to park than there are spaces.
'Residential parking will also improve over the next couple of years as on-street parking regulations are changed and we can introduce more resident-only zones.'
If the board approve the plans tomorrow, they will then be considered by Cheshire County Council's Joint Highways Committee before detailed public consultations are carried out.