NEW parking charges which will see a hike in current fees on most Cheshire East Council car parks will come into force on July 8.

The new charges were voted through by the council’s highways and transport committee in January.

Charges will be introduced in towns and villages where parking is currently free, such as Middlewich, Alsager, Holmes Chapel and Sandbach, no later than October 1.

At last night’s (Thursday) meeting of the highways and transport committee, a couple of councillors asked why the new charges were being introduced next month when they thought it had been agreed for October.

Cllr John PriestCllr John Priest (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Cllr John Priest (Nantwich, Lab) also asked: “If you're going to be able to bring that forward for the non-free towns, why couldn't you bring the free towns forward as well?”

Richard Hibbert, head of strategic transport and parking, said: “That commencement date will take effect on July 8 in those car parks where we already have charging.

“The program to equip the free car parks with ticket machines remains, as previously discussed in January.

"So that program is still to be completed and will be delivered over the summer, with a view to introducing parking charges in our free car parks no later than October 1.”

Cllr Ken Edwards (Bollington, Lab) said the way the council had publicised the charges had led to confusion.

Cllr Ken EdwardsCllr Ken Edwards (Image: Cheshire East Council)

“The general information that is in every car park is also, of course, in the free car park currently in Bollington and it did cause considerable confusion,” he said, adding the notice had July 8 on it.

The budget paper presented to last night’s meeting seemed to spark more confusion because that stated the ‘annual inflation adjustment to existing pay and display tariffs can be implemented by July 1, 2024, in advance of bringing charges into effect in the ‘free towns’.

It continued: “This is three months earlier than planned.”

Cllr Laura CraneCllr Laura Crane (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Sandbach councillor Laura Crane (Lab), who is vice chair of the committee, told the meeting:” I think there might be a typo here...

“We agreed in January, that the annual increase for the car parks that are already charged for, would be brought in between April and June, so if anything it’s a few days late, just a few days, but it isn't three months early.”

“I think that particular point then needs stating, because it's quite concerning to residents if they think we're rushing things through that we did not agree to do at committee.”