A COUNCILLOR is demanding answers after appearing to discover that just a tiny fraction of cash spent at Wilmslow’s car parks is used to maintain them.

Cheshire East Council is currently considering increasing parking charges at some sites across the borough – including Broadway Meadow – with the cash then invested in the council’s parking facilities and other services.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Cllr Toni Fox, CEC member for Dean Row, has found that CEC car parks in Wilmslow generated £2.8 million for council coffers between April 2015 and March 2018.

But she also found that just £6,860 was spent maintaining them between February 2015 and June 2017 – before new ticket machines were introduced, with the cost of maintenance then included in their cost instead.

The Residents of Wilmslow member said: “We all understand that when funding from central Government is being reduced councils have to generate income to support key services.

“Unfortunately the lack of transparency provided by the council about the income from car parks and other sources means it is difficult for residents to understand how these monies are being used when we have so many infrastructure issues in our area – such as parking, school places, health services and public transport.”

Cllr Fox’s FoI response reveals that £918,925 was generated at Wilmslow’s car parks in 2015-16, £955,529 in 2016-17 and £929,065 in 2017-18 – with the South Drive car park bringing in the most cash for CEC.

After receiving her FoI response, Cllr Fox wrote an open letter to Frank Jordan, executive director of place and acting deputy chief executive.

She said: “In light of the proposed increase in parking charges and the ongoing car parking survey being undertaken in Wilmslow, I would be grateful if you could clarify what has become of the remaining balance of £2,796,658.64 and if this is available, if required, to help resolve the current parking issues in the town?”

Cllr Fox is yet to receive a formal response to her open letter, and under council protocol CEC is unable to issue media statements until elected members have received a response.

However, CEC released a separate statement on Tuesday following the end of the council’s consultation on parking charges, which had 292 responses.

The local authority said that of the £5 million a year it generates through parking across Cheshire East, around £3 million is invested in parking enforcement services, pay and display machines and maintenance, residents’ parking services, other parking services and parking overheads.

CEC says that the remainder of the cash – around £2 million – becomes part of the council’s overall income to fund front-line services.

Mr Jordan said: “We would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit a representation as part of the parking charges consultation. All representations are now being reviewed and considered prior to any decision being made.

“The money that comes from car parks helps us to ensure our car parks are safe, secure and well maintained – and that there is a good turnaround of spaces for visitors and shoppers.

“In addition the revenue generated is invested into services elsewhere, such as highways, transport and other council services, such as adult and children’s social care. This helps us continue to deliver local frontline services to those who are most vulnerable in all our communities.

“This is helping to provide local services for real people in all our communities.”

Under the proposed changes to car parking charges, the cost of parking at Broadway Meadow for more than six hours could increase from £3.30 to £7.50.

Drivers parking there for two, three, four or five days would also face significant price hikes, while motorists leaving their car for less than six hours would face a price hike of 10p.

A decision on CEC’s parking charges is expected in March.