Posted: 03.09.21 at 18:12 by Alexander Greensmith & Belinda Ryan, Local Democracy Reporter
Car parking income in Cheshire East was down by more than £3m last year compared to the previous year because of the pandemic.
Cheshire East suspended parking charges between March 27 and June 15 last year because of COVID-19.
Figures obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service under a Freedom of Information request (FOI) show the total income generated from car park charges across the borough was £1,967,640 in the last financial year (2020/21).
In the previous financial year, 2019-20 before the impact of the pandemic, that figure was £5,064,703.
Crewe councillor Anthony Critchley said: “The figures are quite startling and it’s worrying how it’s going to be recouped, but the fact of the matter still remains that those towns like Crewe, Wilmslow, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Knutsford, Congleton and Alderley Edge are still paying for those that don’t.”
Cheshire East’s long awaited car parking review is due to be discussed at this month’s meeting of the highways committee.
The issue of parking charges has been a thorn in the side of both the previous Conservative administration and the current Labour/Independent led council as some towns pay and some don’t.
In places such as Alsager, Middlewich, Sandbach, Audlem, Bollington, Handforth, Holmes Chapel, Prestbury and Poynton all the council owned car parks are free.
Figures released under the FOI show, as in the previous three years, Macclesfield was the biggest cash cow for Cheshire East this year with drivers paying £567,851 to park.
Wilmslow was next at £375,388 and Crewe was third highest at £329,046.
Drivers in Knutsford paid £309,363 to park in the last financial year, Nantwich paid £279,622, Congleton £84,123 and those in Alderley Edge paid £22,247.
When it came to expenditure on car parks, Cheshire East paid out £465,160 in Macclesfield – meaning it made a total profit of £102,691 from Macclesfield drivers.
It paid almost half that figure £238,017 in Wilmslow, so it made a profit of £137,371 from Wilmslow; it paid out £287,014 in Crewe, making a profit of £42,032 from drivers in Crewe.
The council paid out £158,340 on car parks in Knutsford, making a profit of £151,023 from Knutsford drivers; it paid £113,967 in Nantwich, making a profit of £165,655 from drivers in Nantwich; it spent £82,159 on car Congleton car parks, making a profit of £1,964; and £12,933 in Alderley Edge, making a profit of £9,314.
Cheshire East spent £27,671 on the free car parks in Alsager in the last financial year, £21,581 on the free car parks in Middlewich and £17,043 on the free car parks in Sandbach.
Cllr Critchley said: “Where on earth have they spent that money on car parks in all those towns?”
Meanwhile Crewe is the town with the highest charge for the first hour, at 80p; Wilmslow is 70p on most car parks; Nantwich is 70p; Macclesfield is mainly 70p for the first hour, with a couple of car parks charging 60p or 80p.
Most Knutsford car parks are 70p for the first hour, Alderley Edge is 50p and Congleton is 40p.
Most of the towns which pay do provide at least one free council-owned car park, although there are none in Knutsford or Nantwich.
There is one council-owned car park in Knutsford and one in Nantwich where parking is free after 3pm.
Macclesfield has just three free carparks owned by our area's borough council.
In comparison, Macclesfield contains 18 paid carparks owned by Cheshire East Council.
The paid carparks are as follows; Christchurch, Churchill Way, Commercial Road, Duke Street, Exchange Street, Gas Road, Grosvenor Multi-storey, Hibel Road, Jordangate Multi-Storey, Macclesfield Railway Station, Old Library, Park Green, Parsonage Street, Pickford Street, Sunderland Street, Town Hall, Waters Green and Whalley Ways.
The free carparks are Broken Cross, Kennedy Avenue, Princes Way.
However, many others towns in Cheshire East have more free carparks, which some believe Macclesfield are unfairly paying for.
While Macclesfield is one of the most populated towns in Cheshire East, the amount we spend on paid parking is significantly higher than any others, in addition to the free car park number being so small.
With Macclesfield's high street still full of empty units, could free parking be a viable solution to bringing more business and spenders into our town?
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