More than 300 residents of Audlem, a village in Cheshire, took to the streets in protest against proposed car parking charges by Cheshire East Council.
The contentious changes would impact a 59-space car park near the public hall in the village. The march, symbolized by a horse-drawn hearse, aimed to convey the potential ‘death’ of the village due to these charges, with banners reading ‘Save Audlem’s Future Existence’ (SAFE).
Protesters voiced their concerns about how these charges could affect local businesses, the doctors’ surgery, parents on the school run, and more.
The March and Its Message
Audlem’s residents gathered in a march along the high street to express their discontent with the proposed car parking charges.
They used a symbolic horse-drawn hearse to represent the potential harm these charges could bring to the village. Banners with the message ‘Save Audlem’s Future Existence’ (SAFE) were carried, and demonstrators chanted slogans like ‘No fees, no fines, no double yellow lines.’
The protesters urged Cheshire East Council to reconsider the proposal, emphasizing the broad impact it could have on local businesses and essential services.
Residents Voice Their Concerns
Brian Bugeja, the march’s coordinator and a nine-year resident of Audlem, voiced the concerns of the community regarding the proposed charges.
He mentioned that the charges could significantly affect the village’s way of life and expressed the collective dismay and annoyance.
The potential impact would extend beyond shops, affecting the doctors’ surgery, clinic, cemetery, public hall, free toilets, and post office.
Additionally, parents using the car park for school and football training would also be affected.
Details of the Proposed Car Parking Charges
The proposed changes in car parking charges include introducing fees at the Cheshire Street car park, with rates starting at 60p for one hour, £1 for up to two hours, and going up to £3.40 for up to 10 hours. These changes are part of a larger review of parking charges across the borough.
Mr. Bugeja emphasized that the expected income from these charges would be insignificant in comparison to the costs Cheshire East incurs for maintaining roads and other social obligations.
Concerns Over Prioritization
Residents raised concerns about the council’s allocation of resources. They pointed to ongoing issues with road maintenance and drainage problems that have persisted for years.
The temporary traffic lights on roads and flooding issues were cited as examples of issues that need attention. They questioned why the council was not addressing these pressing problems instead.
Residents Unite Against the Charges
The protest in Audlem served as a united front against the proposed car parking charges. Residents made it clear that this was not just an issue for a few individuals but a collective concern.
The protest aimed to garner attention and emphasize the widespread opposition to the proposed charges.
Council’s Response and Public Consultation
Councillor Craig Browne, Cheshire East Council deputy leader and chair of the council’s highways and transport committee, responded to the protests, highlighting the ongoing public consultation regarding the parking charges.
He welcomed input from residents and businesses and assured that all views and comments would be considered before any decisions were made by the council. The consultation period closed on November 1.
The Impact of Parking Charges
The proposed parking charges have sparked a significant response from Audlem’s residents, who have voiced their concerns about the potential repercussions for the village.
The charges could affect not only individual residents but also local businesses and essential services. The council’s response will determine the outcome of this contentious issue.