NORTHWICH Labour councillors have blamed central government cuts for the introduction of parking charges.

Tariffs are set to be introduced at most town centre car parks from later this year, after Labour-run Cheshire West and Chester Council proposed to implement its new parking strategy in Northwich.

Cllr Sam Naylor, CWAC member for Winnington and Castle, said: “The Conservative government will have slashed £16bn from Council budgets by 2020 – 60p in every pound of core funding – with over £330m in Cheshire West and Chester alone by the same year.

“No one wants to see car parking charges introduced in Northwich, but the years of austerity coupled with a previous Conservative administration that prioritised freezing council tax over planning for the future has tied the council’s hands.”

Despite the introduction of charges in some areas, including Memorial Court and the market, parking at Barons Quay will remain free.

Cllr Andrew Cooper, Northwich Town Council member for Bridge ward, said: “We have known for a couple of years that charges were part of CWAC’s car parking strategy and Northwich-based councillors of both parties have fought against the introduction of charges at least until the regeneration of the town is on a sound footing.

“It is clear that our voices have been heard by CWAC’s decision to make parking free in Barons Quay for the foreseeable future.

“They have also listened to our concerns around providing somewhere for low-paid town centre workers to park by bringing forward the refurbishment of the Old Depot car park and making that free of charge.

“This goes to show that sensible engagement with the issue, rather than howling from the sidelines, can change minds and deliver a better outcome for our town.”

Cllr Paul Dolan, who also represents Winnington and Castle, said: “The charges are very modest starting at 20p for two hours, and people who choose not to park in one of the free car parks will be able to pay using contactless payment technology, whilst disabled people won’t have to pay at all.

“Northwich town centre is a really exciting place to be at the moment, and the strategy will improve the car parking experience and complement the ongoing regeneration of our town.”