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THURSDAY, 15th DECEMBER, 2011.
Zumba goes under
Campsite promise Readers'ViewsPages29-32 Page 27
£3.50 a day car park threat for town’s workers
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Reindee to return
By Chris Young A threat to sharply increase car-parking charges in Congleton shocked councillors and traders when the news broke yesterday (Wednesday).
Cheshire East Council admits it is deliberately targeting people who come into the town centre to work, wanting them to pay the highest rise.
Current fees are 30p for an hour, £1 up to three hours and £1.50 for up to 10 hours.
The proposals for towns in the same category as Congleton would start at 50p (one hour), £1 for up to two hours, £1.50 up to three hours, £2 for four hours, £3
for six hours and £3.50 for up to 10 hours.
Paul Bates, chairman o f Congleton Business Association, will complain to the council on behalf of traders and Congleton Partnership, and will say: “This is nothing more than a tax on the Congleton worker and particularly harsh on the lower paid shop workers. This will also put Congleton at a severe disadvantage to its local towns, Alsager, Middlewich and Sandbach, where parking is free.
“Cheshire East — listen to what is going on. Town centres will die unless you stop stealth taxing them.
“I will be at a meeting representing the town’s retail businesses and hope to be able to speak protesting in the strongest terms that further increases on an already struggling sector is hardly the path to economic recovery.”
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He referred to a report by Mary Portas, TVs “Queen of shops,” released on Tuesday. It states that local councils should do more to help high street businesses and cites reduced parking charges as an example.
In an email sent to the town’s traders, town manager Jackie MacArthur said: “We should really shout up and complain about this.
“It completely flies in the face of the Mary Portas report, it puts us at an even greater disadvantage with our neighbouring towns and this will do absolutely nothing to help the vitality of the town.”
• —Turn to back page.
The Nativity scene was recreated by tots at Daintry Hall Nursery at North Rode this week. Pictured above are Mary and Joseph aka Mia Bentley Smith and Jacob Bates. For more festive school photos, turn to page 22.(“Chronicle” photo. 5006a/11).
Pint-and-a-half way to look at council tax The price of a pint-and-a half of beer per household could keep Congleton looking attractive, according to town clerk Brian Hogan.
a budget when we don’t know how much devolved services are going to cost? I want to work with the town council but I also want to support the people who elected me.”
From April, the part of the council tax that goes to Congleton Town Council will rise by an average of £3.76 a year for a Band D property. Mr Hogan told the council meeting which approved the increase on Thursday that the precept was “extremely good value” and the rise would help safeguard services that were “taken for granted”.
The council has had to increase its budget by £681,629, which includes an extra £5,000 to maintain floral displays — one of several services to be taken over from Cheshire East Council in October as part of a borough-wide devolution process.
Some councillors questioned a council tax rise when families were being squeezed by financial pressures but Mr Hogan said the increase would safeguard services.
Coun Neville Price, (Independent) said: “This increase is not something I would support. I support services being devolved from Cheshire East to the town council because we can do it better but this will cost the people of Congleton more money.
“How can we put forward
Coun John Saville Crowther, (Congleton First), also questioned the increase.
Mr Hogan replied: “We don’t have a complete picture but we have agreed to go along with devolved services. Cheshire East may decide to keep some services but they may decide to outsource them.
“Locally, some of the things we take for granted might disappear if Cheshire East Council comes under more pressure.
“We are making sure we have the ability to keep this town as attractive as we possibly can. The rise is 7.2p a week: £3.76 a year. That is extremely good value; the cost of a pint and a half of beer.”
Coun George Hayes said: “It is right that the town council do this at this time.”
The council approved the budget.
Last month Cheshire East Council leader Wesley Fitzgerald said the authority faced a £16m overspend. Some services would have to be cut and charges for others might be increased.
The authority’s council tax level for next year has yet to be set.
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