CONTENTIOUS plans to introduce charges for free car parks has incensed residents and councillors.

Hundreds of objections have been lodged against Cheshire East Council’s proposal to start charging and reduce the length of time drivers can stay on other free bays across the county.

Holmes Chapel Parish Council strongly objects to plans to start charging drivers at Parkway and London Road car parks.

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Councillors held an extra ordinary meeting to lodge their response to consultation.

In a detailed document, the council said: “The introduction of charging will have a detrimental effect on access to the economy of the village centre from both customer and employee perspective.

“The income assessment does not show the cost of installation, maintenance, management and monitoring of the two small car parks which only offer a total of 40 spaces.”

All the other car parks, other than these two council-owned sites, are privately owned and all have time limits or charging.

Councillors are concerned about the difficulties car park charges could cause to people attending the medical centre and pharmacy beside the London Road car park.

The report states: “Twenty eight per cent of the population served by Holmes Chapel Health Centre are over 65, many of whom have long term medical conditions that mean they must drive, or be driven to the medical centre and pharmacy.

“Introducing charging would penalise those who are already disadvantaged through age and infirmity.”

Parkway car park is the only place where employees of many outlets can leave their cars on a long stay basis.

“Charging will displace that parking onto the surrounding streets causing inconvenience and annoyance to residents,” say councillors.

“Holmes Chapel Parish Council will continue to support the local small businesses that operate in the village, making it a welcome and vibrant place to shop, eat, drink and linger.

“We do not want to see this impacted through the unnecessary imposition of parking charges.”

It is feared that some residents may be attracted to larger centres for shopping and hospitality on the basis that if they have to pay in the village, they might as well try other locations.

The report adds: “This will mean additional road journeys which adds to the effect of pollution and climate change.

“We are also concerned that CEC action could have a knock-on effect to other private parking time limits.”

Now, parking in the precinct is up to three hours.

If demand is increased because of the new charges, this could be cut to two hours.

Councillors said: “This would leave virtually no spaces for medium term parking for people using restaurants, hairdressers or social events and be very damaging to the village economy.”

An application by Holmes Chapel Parish Council to take over the two free car parks has been delayed pending the outcome of consultation.

Councillors are calling for their bid to be dealt with straightaway.

Handforth Town Council has handed over 354 objections the CEC’s plans to impose charges at free car parks.

Knutsford Guardian: Residents and councillors are infuriated over plans to introduce charges at the free car park on Wilmslow Road in HandforthResidents and councillors are infuriated over plans to introduce charges at the free car park on Wilmslow Road in Handforth (Image: Google Maps)

A spokesman for Handforth Town Council said: “These objections have been collected by town councillors over the last six weeks, following Saturday morning sessions in the Paddock to discuss the CEC proposals with residents.

“Not one resident was in favour of these proposals. Therefore, all the responses must be considered objections to the introduction of car parking charges in Handforth.”