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Keep our Car Parks Free - Parish Council Response to Parking Consultation

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Holmes Chapel Parish Council strongly OBJECTS to the proposals outlined by Cheshire East Council to introduce charges to the Parkway and London Road Car Parks.


We strongly encourage residents and businesses to submit a response to this consultation, before the closing date of 1st November.


You can do this by emailing: carparksreview2023@cheshireeast.gov.uk or by sending a letter to:

Parking Services Manager Parking Services Department c/o Delamere House Delamere Street Crewe CW1 2LL



All objections/ representations must specify the grounds on which they are made.


Below is the final response which has been written by Holmes Chapel Parish Council:


Holmes Chapel Parish Council, at an extraordinary council meeting on 5th October 2023 resolved to respond to Cheshire East’s Car Parking Consultation and to OBJECT to the proposals for charging at the 2 small Council owned car parks in Holmes Chapel.


Grounds for objection

1. The introduction of charging will have a detrimental effect on access to the health care facilities in the village.

2. The introduction of charging will have a negative impact on the economy of the village centre both from a customer and employee perspective.

3. The assessment of the car parks has failed to consider the whole picture of parking across Holmes Chapel.

4. The assessment does not take account fully of the displaced parking that will occur if charging is introduced and the suggested measures for reducing displaced parking fails to recognise the real current situation.

5. The assessment of available spaces contains errors, and 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.

6. Holmes Chapel Parish Council has an application to take over these 2 car parks under the approved Asset Transfer Strategy which has been delayed pending the outcome of the car parking consultation. This should be progressed.


Background

Holmes Chapel is a Local Service Centre which serves a wider rural area beyond the parish boundary. While the population of Holmes Chapel is over 6,670 (see 2021 Census) the total population served by the village, notably those using the medical centre, is in the order of 15,000 – more than double that of the village itself.


Access to services from the surrounding parishes, given that there is extremely limited public transport available, is primarily by private car.


All the car parks, other than the 2 small Council owned sites, are privately owned and all have time limits or charging. The longest stay is at the central precinct and is a maximum of 3 hours. The others vary from 1 to 11/2 hours.


Details of objection

1. Access to healthcare facilities: the medical centre and the pharmacy are situated in the village centre adjacent to the London Road/Library car park. The medical centre provides only 7 spaces for public use and thus the London Road car park provides the only short-term parking for accessing Health Centre facilities. The London Road car park currently has 3 marked disabled bays and 4 bays reserved for council Library staff. No mention of these is made in the consultation document.

28% 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 to the London Road car park would penalise those who are already disadvantaged through age and infirmity.


2. Village Economy: Access to parking is vital for the economy of the village. Parking for the employees of the many outlets that do not own their own spaces is essential on a long stay basis. The Parkway car park provides this facility which is not available anywhere else in the village other than through on-street parking. Charging at Parkway will displace that parking onto the surrounding streets causing inconvenience and annoyance to residents. Any financial benefit of charging won’t even directly benefit the village. Holmes Chapel Parish Council has and will continue to support the local small businesses that operate in the village centre, 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.


A further concern is that with charging introduced, residents are more likely to be attracted to larger centres for shopping and hospitality on the basis that if they have to pay here, they might just as well try other locations. 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, for example, parking in the Precinct is allowable up to three hours. If parking pressure increased because of CEC imposed charges the Precinct could reduce this to two hours or less. This would leave virtually no spaces for medium term parking for people using restaurants, hairdressers or social events and be very damaging for the village economy.


3. Assessment of parking across the whole village: The assessment of the introduction of charging at the 2 small car parks in Holmes Chapel has focussed on those car parks in isolation. There is no reference to the village as a whole and there is no Town Centre Vitality Plan for Holmes Chapel. These have only been prepared for the principal locations and towns in Cheshire East. Therefore, how can Cheshire East treat Holmes Chapel in the same way as towns that have had a thought through Town Centre Vitality Plan? The focus of these proposed changes is solely on income generation and the aim of uniformity across the whole of the Borough. This is, in our view, erroneous and the ‘One Size Fits All’ approach is not appropriate. It is essential that the individual circumstances of each town/parish are considered. In this regard we reiterate our view that charging should not be imposed on the Holmes Chapel car parks.


4. Displaced Parking: The assessment of the impact of charging in Holmes Chapel suggests that there will be some displacement (at least 30%) and that, to counter this, parking restrictions could be introduced on Sutton Oaks and Alumbrook Avenue. This assessment fails to recognise that Sutton Oaks is adjacent to Plus Dane Housing association housing and is already used by these residents, some of whom have mobility issues and serves to provide visitor and residential parking. Alumbrook Avenue is a narrow road. Displaced parking will cause significant difficulties to residents. We strongly object to the potential installation of parking restrictions in these areas. This would only cause further displacement to other locations. This issue of ‘displaced parking’ has not been properly assessed.


5. Income and Cost: The consultation document does not include any details or evaluation of the cost of installing ticketing equipment, monitoring of compliance/enforcement or maintenance of the car park. It is very likely that those costs, weighed against the income from charging would render it uneconomic. Does the council have a budget for these costs? What are they?


In addition, as the precinct has a 3-hour free parking limit, and other private car parks have 1 – 1.5 hours free parking, any income assumed for the first 3 hours from either of the CEC car parks must be £0 as people will not pay to park when there is an alternative.


6. Transfer to Holmes Chapel Parish Council: In July 2021, Cheshire East Council approved its Asset Transfer Policy which allowed for the transfer of Council owned assets to Town/Parish Councils or other organisations. Holmes Chapel Parish Council has made an application to take over the 2 small Council car parks in the village for the benefit of our and neighbouring residents. Rather than see Cheshire East impose charges we want to see our application progressed and for the proposals for charging to be withdrawn. It is our view that this provides better benefit to our residents compared with the limited impact on Cheshire East Council finances.


Conclusion

In summary Holmes Chapel Parish Council objects to the imposition of charging on our 2 small car parks in the village centre and wishes to see the proposals for Holmes Chapel withdrawn.


We remain committed to the provision of free parking in the village alongside the commercial, time-limited provision from the larger businesses in the village centre.


Parking in the village is already at a premium and with the continuing growth of the village this will only get worse. Charging for the Council car parks will only put more pressure on the existing provision and on on-street parking.


Should Cheshire East Council decide to impose parking charges, against the very strong wishes of this Parish Council and our residents, at a minimum the first hour should be free.


We require that Cheshire East Council takes account of the views of local communities and is not tempted to approve the proposals en-bloc without due recognition of local needs.




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