THE manager of Chester city centre's Business Improvement District (BID) has launched a stinging attack on the council's new parking strategy.

Carl Critchlow, of CH1ChesterBID, said the majority of the group's 500 members had not been consulted about the plan.

Cheshire West and Chester Council published its Parking Srategy document this morning.

In a statement, Mr Critchlow said: “The views of the majority of our members – which number around 500 city centre businesses who are the engine of our city centre economy – were disregarded following the initial Parking Strategy consultation, and this seems to have continued during the formation of this car parking action plan for the city.

“It’s disappointing that no businesses or anybody at CH1ChesterBID have been consulted as part of the formation of this plan – I certainly haven’t been – and, as far as I know, nor have any of our members.

“Post 3pm in Chester is not all about footfall it is also about sales, which is why retaining Free After 3 was something the majority of our members cared so passionately about. Free After 3 works because it keeps an even spread of people – and potential customers – in and around the city throughout the day and not because it drives a huge spike in city visitors at 3pm. We feel that the economic impact on our businesses as a result of changes to parking in the city has been ignored by the council. CH1ChesterBID has offered to jointly fund an economic impact study with the council on the issue but this offer has been ignored.

"We are fully onboard with plans for greater investment in technology, better maintenance in our city car parks and new ideas to encourage more people to come to our city and to spend more time here. Yet for the good of the city and its businesses we need the council to engage in two way discussions and to listen to the members we represent, not simply impose what they think is best when it comes to parking in Chester.

"The timing of this announcement is also disappointing as the run up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year for our businesses. Releasing information about new parking offers and replacement of the Free After 3 initiative at this most critical time only adds to the confusion surrounding parking in Chester. We’re doing everything we can to remind the public that Free After 3 is still in operation over the Christmas period, and we want to encourage people to continue taking advantage of the free parking on offer and enjoy Christmas shopping in the city centre."