Trafford Council leader Andrew Western has defended plans to introduce parking charges in Timperley village’s main car park.
As part of the 2021-22 budget agreed by councillors in February, the Thorley Lane car park is to change from a free car park (up to a maximum of three hours) to a chargeable one.
Parking will fall in line with proposals for all council-owned village car parks in the borough and charge 50p for up to two hours, and £1.20 for more than two hours.
Other village car parks in the borough – including Balmoral Road in Altrincham – have previously only been free for the first hour, and £1 thereafter.
In a statement, Cllr Andrew Western said: “The political decision to make this change to parking charges was made in February. The council has a substantial budget challenge to contend with and if this change was not made further service cuts would be required in its place.
“Timperley is currently the only village centre without parking charges and it is not fair to other areas that one village has subsidised parking and our others do not: I would rather address this long-standing unfairness than make cuts toW council services.”
And responding on Twitter to Andy Sheridan, who said the proposed changes were a “massive mistake” and that “local businesses will take the hit”, Western added: “As I keep saying, very happy to hear alternatives but I don’t have any at the minute and this is about fairness – we can’t subsidise some areas’ parking and not others and continue cutting services to do so.
“Realise I sound hard here but I’d need to make cuts to change this. I don’t have a list of low hanging fruit after 10+ years of cuts to offset changes that I believe are fair. Timperley is the only village without charges and I’d rather address that inequity than cut services.”
When the budget was approved in February, the council highlighted a budget gap of £25.52m, with £8.34m of that figure relating to specific Covid-19 pressures.
The cost of on-street and off-street parking will also be going up across Trafford, with the half-hour 50p charge scrapped and a two-hour minimum charge of £1.20 introduced. The price of a four-hour stay is going up from £2 to £3.50.
Back in March, Cllr Dave Morgan, for the Conservatives, said the increases were “unjustified given the current economic situation” and would have “a very disproportionate impact”.
But Cllr Michael Welton, from the Green Party, said: “I support these proposals because they discourage environmentally damaging short-term visits to our town centres by car, and incentivise those who do drive in to stay longer.”