Our village is being killed by new parking charges and double yellows – we’re so angry we held a FUNERAL in protest | The Sun

HUNDREDS of angry residents turned out at a funeral to mourn the "death" of a their village in a protest against parking charges.

More than 300 locals from Audlem, Cheshire, marched through the high street this weekend to oppose an increase in car parking charges proposed by the council.

The controversial change to the charges will affect the 59-space car park adjacent to the public hall in the village. 

The march was headed up by a horse-drawn hearse, with banners being carried saying “Save Audlem’s Future Existence” (SAFE) and people shouting “No fees, no fines, no double yellow lines!”

Protesters urged the council to reconsider the proposal, which they say will affect local businesses in the surrounding area as well as the doctors' surgery and clinic, and parents on the school run.

But Cheshire East council officials say the money generated from the car park is needed to maintain and resurface the area as it is currently "neither fair nor sustainable".

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March co-ordinator Brian Bugeja, 53, an engineer who has lived in the village for nine years, called on the council to rethink their plans.

He said: "I'd say there were about 250-300 people there. The hearse was to reflect that this would be the death of the village. By imposing the charge, it will impact the way of life in the village. People are annoyed and dismayed at this.

“Our march is meant to show Cheshire East that the people of Audlem are against these charges.

"It will have a massive impact on so many people’s lives and businesses if these charges are incurred. This is our only car park for the village and surrounding area.

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“This proposal will not only affect the shops but also the doctors’ surgery and clinic, the cemetery, and the public hall where activities are held on a daily basis, the free toilets and the post office.

"Not to mention parents use when they drop their children off for both the local school and football training on the playing field adjacent to the car park."

The changes would see charges introduced on the Cheshire Street car park at 60p for one hour, £1 for up to two hours, rising to £3.40 for up to 10 hours.

The changes are part of a review of parking charges across the borough, the consultation period.

Mr Bugeja added: "The potential income Cheshire East will make on the car park charges are insignificant compared to Cheshire East’s cost of maintaining, for example, our roads and other social obligations.

"In the report, it outlines the car park will generate an income of around £25,000, and so we’re not talking significant amounts here. It will hardly pay, for example, for one of our local roads, which is currently blocked causing flooding because of an issue that’s been going on for five years.

"We’ve had temporary traffic lights on the roads for a year and a half because the road has collapsed. Another case in Corbrook where the council has tried to fix it, but who knows how much they’ve spent, but it’s still flooding. Why is the council not addressing these issues instead?

"We’re going to make it plain that we’ve had enough. This is drastic action to raise attention to the charges and it’s the next step to show Cheshire East that it’s not just me, or 10 people – it’s the whole of Audlem that is against it."

Speaking last month, Councillor Craig Browne, Cheshire East Council deputy leader and chair of the council’s highways and transport committee, said: “The council’s parking review is currently out for public consultation.

"We welcome all views and comments from residents and businesses. These will be considered as part of the review process before any decisions are made by the council.

“Parking charges have only been increased once since Cheshire East was formed in 2009. The current arrangements for parking charges across the borough, including where several towns have no charges in all council car parks, are neither fair, nor sustainable.

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“Income from car parks is used to maintain them, including resurfacing, lighting and the installation of electric vehicle charging points. Income can also help to support other services, such as highways improvements or subsidised bus services."

The consultation closed on November 1.

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