Labour councillors are being urged to “come clean” over plans to introduce car parking charges at Wirral’s country parks.
A decision – “sneaked through” according to Tories – in the run-up to Christmas instructed council officers to begin the process of buying new pay and display equipment.
A report stated the only wards affected would be Greasby, Frankby Irby, Pensby and Thingwall, West Kirby and Thurstaston, Eastham and New Brighton.
Councillor Jeff Green, leader of Wirral’s Conservative group, said: “Having seen this decision and investigated the intention behind it has been confirmed that this equipment is destined for the introduction of car parking charges at Royden Park, Arrowe Park, Wirral Country Park and Eastham Country Park along with Perch Rock in New Brighton.
“I’m sure Labour councillors are conscious of how unpopular the suggestion was last time it was tabled but it appears they are determined to try and sneak this through with the bare minimum of consultation. (December 2013)
“I understand from senior officers that public notices will shortly be issued at the sites and in newspapers however any “consultation” has been rendered meaningless.
“Budget information clearly shows that Labour councillors expect to generate an additional £1m from car parking revenue with no alternative options proposed, so naturally residents will assume this is a foregone conclusion.”
“I would urge anyone who is against this proposal to sign my petition.”
A council spokesman said: “Over the next four years, Wirral must find ways to reduce its spending by £132m – £45m of which must be found in just the next financial year.
This is our biggest ever single year budget deficit.
“If the council is to keep on providing the services which residents rely on, then we must look at increasing income where we can, to partly offset the huge reductions in the funding we receive from central government.
“One of the areas we will look at is car parking; in particular, modest increases in tariffs at car parks across the borough, and putting in charges at some car parks which are currently free.
“We will be consulting with residents on these potential new charges.”
A backlash against bringing in fees to park at Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton has already seen 1,200 people sign a protest petition.