A COUNCIL has made a U-turn on its plan to increase parking charges in the Moorlands. Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) is due this month to set its budget for 2020/21 and among the proposals for expenditure and income, the council was looking to increase parking charges at it's car parks, including those in Cheadle, Leek, and Biddulph, by 20p. However, after an “overwhelming number” of councillors on the councils Resources Overview & Scrutiny Panel voted to recommend to object against the increase in charges at its meeting last Wednesday (February 5), the SMDC Cabinet decided to reject the proposals at a meeting yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, February 11).
SMDC leader councillor Sybil Ralphs confirmed that there will now be no increase in charges for 12 months and that a complete review of car parking charges is to take place.
Cllr Ralphs told the Times & Echo: “We listened to the resources panel and took note of their recommendation.
“We were looking to do a car park review sometime this year and in the meantime put the charges up by 20p.
“There are four or five concession days each year for events like Christmas where parking is free.
“We were going to give the three town council’s (Cheadle, Leek and Biddulph) an additional four days to use whenever they liked.
“However, the scrutiny panel sent a recommendation back for us to review the proposals and we have now put it off for 12 months.
“In the meantime we are going to do a review of car park charges throughout the Moorlands within the corporate plan.
“I don’t want to take away from any other part of the budget so it would mean that would be extra income we no longer have now.
“The budget will now be approved at full council with that piece taken out.”
Cheadle mayor and town councillor Ian Plant, who sits on the Resources Overview & Scrutiny Panel, told the Times and Echo: “I’m glad that the cabinet went with the recommendation of the resources committee and that there will be no increase for the next 12 months and a full review of the fees to be undertaken.
“It was said that there may have been an extra four days free during the year, but that was never discussed at the resources panel.
“I would hope that they will talk to councillors from Leek, Biddulph and Cheadle for the way forward.
“I would like to see it reduced so more people would use the town they would still gain on the income.
“Maybe they could look at a residential pass which is renewed every three years, and alter the times to accommodate parents picking their children up.
“There are more alternatives to look at. I’m very pleased so far with the outcome and that the Cabinet went with the recommendation.
“It’s work in progress.”
Cheadle Town Councillor Gary Bentley was very positive about the news, commenting: “I spoke to Sybil Ralphs on Saturday and we discussed car parking charges and we both agreed that it was beneficial to have a review of the car parks on an individual basis before an increase was implemented.
“What fits on one car park doesn’t always fit another.
“I’m pleased that the cabinet has listened to the Resources Overview & Scrutiny Panel and the voices of Cheadle, realising that it is not the correct time to put parking charges up.
“We look forward to working together in the future.”
Cheadle Town Councillor Jamie Evans said: “I’m happy that they have rejected putting the car parking charges up by 20p.
“However, we have put recommendations forward and they are not being listened to.
“There are better options being put forward like, for example, Team Cheadle have, which they need to start listening to.”
SMDC Cabinet member Joe Porter added: “We’ve listened to the scrutiny panel, that’s why we made the decision we have and that’s what they are there for.”
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