Cheshire council to scrap free parking to 'generate income'
Popular schemes allowing drivers to park for free in Cheshire are to be scrapped to help "generate income", the local council has said.
Currently, no fee is charged in Northwich, Winsford and Frodsham and parking is free in Chester and Ellesmere Port after 15:00.
Cheshire West and Chester Council said introducing "modest" charges would also "reduce congestion and pollution".
Local businesses have claimed parking charges would hit their trade.
Thousands of residents have signed petitions against the introduction of charges.
The proposals could also see charges imposed in a number of villages, including Helsby, Little Sutton and Tarporley, though the council has rejected a suggestion by consultants to charge blue badge holders to park.
'A step back'
The Labour-run council has pledged to "improve the quality" of its car parks and introduce new technology as part of the plans.
Labour councillor Karen Shore said "savage Conservative cuts to local authority funding" had led to "difficult decisions".
"Nobody likes paying for things that were previously free... but the fairest way to generate the income needed to contribute towards the savings the council must make is for everyone to contribute," she added.
Conservative councillor Lynn Riley said introducing charges was "risky" for economic recovery and "risky for regeneration".
"Parking charges, psychologically, is a step back when we should be taking a step forward" she added.