BUSINESS owners in Chester have been reassured by the leader of the council that a vital free parking scheme will not be axed.
The statement from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s leader Cllr Mike Jones comes after claims from opposition councillor that the “writing was on the wall” for the free after three scheme.
Executive members approved in principle the findings and recommendations of a review into all aspects of Chester’s parking – but rejected any change to the policy first introduced in 2007 to help boost Chester’s economy.
The claims from opposition Councillor David Robinson have been dismissed as “irresponsible political scaremongering”.
Councillor Jones said: “I want to assure retailers and residents that we are fully behind a scheme which the great majority of people consider has achieved exactly what it is intended to do – bring more people into Chester.
“In suggesting otherwise, Councillor Robinson could be discouraging people to come to Chester at a time when the city faces greater competition than ever from major rivals like Liverpool, Manchester and Cheshire Oaks.”
Councillor Jones emphasised that the executive fully recognised the considerable support the scheme enjoys and did not agree with AECOM’s recommendation ‘to accept in principle a change in policy to an alternative discounted offer’.
“The findings and report would form a basis of a strategic parking strategy to be implemented by the council over the next 15 years.” said the council leader.
“Those findings and recommendations will all be carefully considered by the officers and members of this authority before arriving at decisions on future policy.”
And he added: “Councillor Robinson was at the executive meeting and was well aware of the outcome which certainly does not conform with his interpretation of events and, sadly, can only mislead the Chester businesses and the public.”
The council intends to develop a strategic framework to guide Chester’s parking policy and investment over the next 15 years – a policy which will complement both the One City and Chester Transport Plans.
It includes supporting proposals for an additional park and ride facility at the Hoole Roundabout which had been a long term objective of the previous city council.