Angry traders may report Council to Ombudsman over car park sale

STALYBRIDGE Business Forum is considering reporting Tameside Council to the local government Ombudsman over the sale of the Leech Street/Back Melbourne Street car park to supermarket Aldi.

“Traders and shoppers are infuriated. It was disgusting how the matter was handled,” explained Forum chairman Peter Taylor who raised the issue at the recent meeting of Stalybridge Town Council.

“There was no communication or consultation with the traders. That is why we are looking to take the matter to the Ombudsman.”

Mr Taylor was also critical of the speed in which the sale took place.

He said: “I noticed from the Council’s website that revised plans were submitted on October 19 and subsequently passed the following day on October 20.

“This does not seem to be enough time for interested parties to scrutinise the plans further.

“On November 16 notices were placed on lamp posts around the site referring to the removal of the car park and on the following Monday it was fenced off and construction work commenced on the Tuesday.”

Sixty-eight business owners had signed a petition opposing the sale of the land, but at Tameside planning committee councillors voted 6-5 in favour of the sale.

The traders were informed Stalybridge ward councillors opposed the sale, but east area co-ordinator Cllr David Sweeton voted in favour of selling car park.

Cllr Sweeton was asked at the town council meeting why he voted for the sale, but he declined saying the question was a “low ball”.

Mr Taylor added Stalybridge has lost a long-stay car park and disputed whether shoppers will be able to park free for 90 minutes at Aldi as Tameside Council has claimed.

He said: “I can show you a picture of the sign that says 90 minutes free parking when making a purchase, yet councillors put out a statement that it is still free.

“It is our kids’ inheritance that has been sold with the money to be spent in Ashton. And once these assets are sold, we won’t ever get them back.”

Borough solicitor Sandra Stewart, in a statement of reasons for the sale of the car park, wrote: “The closure of the car park will generate a capital receipt for the Council whilst causing no detriment to the availability of parking facilities and/or effect on congestion in Stalybridge town centre.

“The inclusion of the Melbourne Street car park in the Aldi car park will allow people to park for free up to one and a half hours to access other shops and facilities in Stalybridge, including the time spent in Aldi.”

However, signs posted at Aldi clearly state that the car park is for customers only.

Mr Taylor was further incensed by Tameside Council closing the small Castle Street car park by Phoenix City for three days for resurfacing and to erect a fence.

“That car park has not been touched for 25 years so why was the work done so close to Christmas with again the traders were not consulted,” he added.

Mr Taylor says traders want a three-hour restriction to stop all-day parking and allow visitors to shop.

“There are only 16 bays on that car park that is full by 8.30am with workers from Aldi and on the Summers Quay development,” he explained.

The only alternative parking is the temporary plot on the former site of SIDS with Mr Taylor adding Tameside Council has put this land up for sale.

As it is not a long-term car park, Mr Taylor described it as being in a “disgusting” state.

He told Stalybridge Town Council: “There are no lights, no CCTV, it is under a foot of water when it rains, condoms have been discarded and a girl was raped there two years ago.

“That has 100 car parking spaces. Where will they go when that is sold?”

Cllr Basil Beeley, who represents Stalybridge South, opposed the sale.

He said: “It is unfair to local traders and will cause problems in the future.

“Wetherspoons have spent a lot of money in the town, but their customers have nowhere to park other than for 90 minutes at Aldi.”

Cllr Beeley added the only car parking alternative was Tesco, but it was a lengthy walk. He also feared the repercussions if Tesco in the future reduced their three-hour limit.

And Cllr Kevin Welsh admitted parking issues in Stalybridge would cause “chaos”.


6 Replies to “Angry traders may report Council to Ombudsman over car park sale”

  1. The writing has been on the wall for years, this is just a further phase of the “centralisation” policy that has been planned for decades, the long term goal is to close all small businesses in Tameside and move everything to large central location’s like the Snipe retail park, the town hall, libraries, cinema’s, restaurants, shops and the like will all finish up in these location’s, removing the facility to park is just a further nail in the coffin of small towns in Tameside, once decent businesses are gone, there will be an abundance of pound shops, charity shops, bookmakers and the like for a while, then the bulldozer’s will move in and clear the lot, come to think of it we are half way there.

  2. Can’t understand all the fuss re the sale of the car park behind Melbourne St. This car park was generally underused and I don’t blame Aldi for wanting to expand their own car park . Aldi store is increasingly popular with residents of Stalybridge and beyond and more space was needed. Whilst their signage may be differently worded than the other supermarket in the town the fact remains that people may use the car park without going into their store. In any case , how much time do people need to shop in Stalybridge, it’s not that big is it?
    I would add a few points-
    Why would Aldi employees use Castle St car park when they can park on their own?
    Should customers of Weatherspoons not be using their cars anyway if they’ve had a drink?
    Tesco isn’t that far away!
    The council seem to be putting a lot of store in the summers quay development. Apart from the fact that it is hideous and should never have been approved, do they really think that new residents will shop in the town and not simply shop at Tesco or Aldi? If they do sell all those apartments,which I doubt,those people will not be enough to save Stalybridge high Street!

  3. We cannot let residents in this country become victims of Parking Eye. They offer no prepayment facility and have cameras so if you go 5 mins over the will charge you £50/70 by post. If you do not pay in 14 days the cost goes up and you cannot successfully appeal as they ignore you and send in the bully boy collectors and threaten you with court and extra charges.

  4. There is no coherent plan for development in the outer areas of Tameside, it is all piecemeal and undertaken without any meaningful consultation. The “land sales” are a disaster, with sensitive areas like gardens and school car-parks being treated in exactly the same cavalier fashion as derelict land, causing widespread public protest. “Big Conversation”? Largely ignored, and of no value. Backed up by our weak-kneed MP. who is absolutely terrified of TMBC. Tameside Council has behaved in ways that have been against the public interest for years, from neglecting a fine Town Hall culminating in a “fire” used as an excuse to demolish, neglecting and running down its local markets, allowing sites to fall into disrepair while “developers” laugh at them……look at the former Clinic site : the Riverside Walk has been closed for years, and despite it once having been the pride of the Borough of Stalybridge, now Tameside’s Legal Department are doing their best to wash their hands of it.What have they done? What EXACTLY have they sold and by what authority? While the latest Council Palace takes shape in Ashton, there are many questions that TMBC need to answer……

  5. The council sold this car park to Aldi they then proceeded to paint double yellow lines all over the place including market st where i have my shop, they then proceeded to re paint the bays within phoenix city car par putting huge disabled bays in limiting parking even more, and narrowing the other bays, I have sympathy for the disabled as my mother inlaw was in a wheelchair , but with blue badges they can park on any of the newly painted yellow lines at any time as there are loads of them . Talk about driving shoppers out of the town , why struggle to park in Stalybridge??? Trafford centre free parking !!!! Crown Point North shopping centre, free parking for 3 hours, line your pockets Tameside council , should be proud of yourself. Lots of new building work for new charter flat and accomodation all over Stalybridge Where the Hell are all those people going to park there cars ?? My rant over !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Phil Ballantyne -‘ I can’t understand all the fuss’

    A few points for you to consider;

    Consider putting £1.5m into what used to be ‘Bottom Dollar’ with 10 luxury apartments and then trying to let them out with no ‘Long Stay’ secure parking nearby.

    Consider being a trader who travels to work by car daily and trying to find secure ‘Long Stay’ parking.
    Consider trying to visit your relatives in one of the new apartments being built. Say on Christmas day, with no ‘Long Stay’ secure parking nearby.

    Consider being told as a local trader that it is more important that Aldi have a bigger car park than it is that the customers and visitors can choose yes, choose how long they stay.

    Consider selling an asset that actually created an annual profit (fact) for a ‘fast buck’ to go into a capital receipt fund to pay for Hyde United to have astro-turf with a 10 year guarantee.

    Consider where people will park when Andy Burnham brings his vision to Stalybridge and the large car park on Castle Street is swallowed up. Incidentally, it was placed on the brownfield sites register suitable for 55 dwellings just before Christmas.

    Consider where the residents of the 36 currently being built ‘Mosscare’ flats will park with only 18 parking spaces available on a first come basis.

    Consider having a large restaurant in the town centre (Pheonix City) that regularly caters for large events such as weddings, birthdays and christenings and not having ‘Long Stay’ secure parking available.

    I could go on but I have to leave for work now and try to find somewhere to park so I can start work.

    So, Phil Ballantyne, maybe you should ‘Consider’ the longer term effects that the sale of Melbourne Street car park will have on the town.



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