A CAMPAIGN is under way to get free parking returned to car parks in Ellesmere Port.

A group of campaigners have come together to try and get free parking at council-owned car parks.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has about 1,170 car spaces over several car parks in the town centre.

The four campaigners, who are also former councillors, are Jonathan Starkey, John Wilson, Henry Moore and Kenny Spain.

They say the move will boost footfall and increase trade to ailing shops that are struggling to survive.

Mr Moore said: “People power can and will force change.

“The public of Ellesmere Port really want the town to become free to park. We are pleased with the response from people who want free parking returned.”

Council charges vary between 50 pence and 70 pence for two hours depending on which car park is used.

In the past, the four have successfully campaigned for ‘free after three’ parking, and managed to scrap free residential schemes.

Mr Starkey added:  “We have been told the car parks generate somewhere in the region of £750,000 and cost £350,000 to maintain.

“The charges in Ellesmere Port were originally introduced by the Labour controlled council to cover maintenance costs.”

Their main concern is that people shopping for essential goods at supermarkets such as Asda shouldn’t have to pay to park.

And in response the group have included an ‘Ask Asda why’ as part of their campaign.

They say it is not fair that customers have to pay to shop in the town, but at Asda Birkenhead they are refunded parking fees if £5 is spent.

Mr Spain said: “No-one in Ellesmere Port is happy to be taxed for the pleasure of shopping for essential goods.”

Mr Wilson added: “We are not being negative about Asda, but want to highlight inconsistencies regarding refunding the fee at their Birkenhead store.

“No one wants to pay for parking to shop. “Our campaign has been very positive and shoppers are welcoming it.

“Town centre businesses and Ellesmere Port residents need all the help they can get.”

A spokesman for Asda said it was out of their hands. He added: “We would love to be able to let the people of Ellesmere Port park for free when visiting their local Asda store.

“Unfortunately, as this is a council owned car park the decision is out of our hands – we would however be very happy to work with the council on finding a solution to this problem.”

A Cheshire West and Chester Council spokesman said: “Free car parking is certainly one option to be considered when looking to increase footfall in the town centre, but does, however, bring with it its own problems that would have to be managed effectively to ensure the town saw any real benefit.

“The council has already engaged with this campaign group to look at all options available and we will work together towards our shared aspirations for Ellesmere Port.”