Parking meters could be introduced in Chester as part of borough-wide car parking proposals.
Labour -led Cheshire West and Chester Council is consulting on contentious suggestions such as scrapping the popular ‘Free after 3’ parking scheme in the city centre and Ellesmere Port as well as introducing parking charges for disabled drivers.
But another political hot potato is a plan to introduce on-street charging in parking bays, for up to two hours, in Chester only – despite CWaC’s claim that it wishes to develop ‘a fair and consistent service' across the borough.
Details on how this element might work have been hard to come by despite repeated enquiries concerning whether the proposals would be city-wide or just in the city centre and which streets would be affected.
At the moment there are dozens of 30 minute and one hour free parking bays in city centre streets which are well used.
CWaC has confirmed some free bays will still exist and says on-street charges will be introduced at ‘key locations’ but has so far been unable to identify these key locations.
A summary document accompanying the consultation gives some clues.
Proposals concerning Chester include: “Implement on-street charging in bays for up to two hours to improve management of spaces.”
The rationale given is ‘to reconcile the discrepancy between on-street and off-street charges in key locations’.
An introduction to the document claims the overall aim of the changes is based on ’key strategy themes’ 'rather than aiming to bridge the financial gap in council finances’. But Labour councillors and council officers privately concede it is actually ‘about making money’ because the authority is cash-strapped due to government cuts.
Cllr Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment, said last month in a press release launching the car parking consultation: “Our population and car ownership rates are steadily rising and land available for car parking is decreasing.
“Over the coming years, the council needs to find ways to invest in additional parking provision, improve the quality of car parks, support local business, manage traffic flow and reduce congestion, while at the same time protecting the environment and public health.
“There is an imbalance at the moment, as residents and businesses in some areas are paying for parking and others are not.
“It is important to stress that at this stage we are only consulting on the proposals made by the independent consultants and no decisions have been made.”
A number of drop-in sessions are taking place across the borough to give residents the opportunity to give their views. For more details and to offer comments click here or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
People can also call 0300 123 7024 or write to: Parking Services, Cheshire West and Chester Council, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE. The consultation ends on February 24, 2017. The new parking strategy will be finalised in the middle of next year.