Introducing parking charges in Middlewich will be the final nail in the coffin for the town, a furious local councillor has said.

Cllr Jonathan Parry (Lab) said he and his fellow Middlewich councillors will fight the Labour/Independent run council over its plans to end free parking.

“It’s going to be absolutely devastating to the town centre,” Cllr Parry told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“We're dealing with small local shops, which have been hit very, very heavily during Covid.

“Putting charges into a town centre like Middlewich is not a way of getting trade into it.

“The car parks are never full, the High Street is dying a death.

“We need to be looking at ways to encourage people not discourage them, and charging is not the way forward. It's literally going to absolutely devastate it and it will be final nail in the coffin and I'm absolutely firmly against the proposal on the table at the moment. I cannot support it whatsoever.

“ I'll be standing by Middlewich residents going against anyone on this.

“If you want to devastate Middlewich's town centre, put these small local traders out of business, or move them out of town to places where there's free parking or bigger footfall, then that's the way to go about it.”

The new pay and display policy, if approved, will see zonal tariffs introduced in towns and villages across the borough and all areas will pay the same.

Central car parks, that is those within 300m or a five minute walk from the town centre, will be in zone one – the highest charging band – and charges will start at 40p for up to 30 minutes or 80p for the first hour.

‘Edge of centre or out of centre’ car parks will be within the cheaper zone two and charges will be 30p for the first 30 minutes and 60p for up to an hour.

The highest fee – for those parking between six to 10 hours – will be £5.60 in zone one and £3.40 in zone two.

Cheshire East says the previous policy, where some towns had paid for years to park and others hadn’t, was unfair.

The council will go out to consultation on the proposals before a final decision is made.