Car parks closed to discourage travel during lockdown


Three car parks at popular parks and recreational spaces in Wilmslow have been closed due to coronavirus lockdown.

Cheshire East Council and Cheshire Police have decided to close the car parks at The Carrs, Twinnies Bridge and Lindow Common to prevent vehicles entering and to help to ensure social distancing is observed.

Barriers had been erected to prevent vehicles from entering the car parks, however these were removed by members of the public over the weekend.

As a result Cheshire East Highways are currently installing more sturdy barriers to block any vehicle access to the car parks, however pedestrian access remains open for those wishing to take their daily exercise in The Carrs or at Lindow Common.

Councillor Hannan Sarwar told "I understand that many residents will be disappointed with the decision to close the car-parks. This decision has been made by Cheshire East Council and the Police, due to concerns regarding social distancing measures.

"As a local town councilor I have contacted the Police Commissioner and am in contact with Highways to establish the core reasons behind this decision, and to ensure that local residents are not negatively affected. I have been inundated with communication from residents outlining their concerns and opinions, and I am working as hard as I can to get firm clarification regarding the car-parks. However, as it stands the car-parks are closed so I urge everyone to respect this decision."

Lindow Common, The Carrs


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Mark Goldsmith
Monday 20th April 2020 at 3:31 pm
Our parks remain open and can still be accessed on foot.

However, the police asked Cheshire East to close these car parks because a large number of people have been driving to them from Manchester, mainly to walk their dogs. This has put considerable strain on the small amount of police resource the town has to enforce the essential travel and social distancing rules.

From time to time the police will be monitoring roads around these closed car parks and will be ticketing any illegally parked vehicles in the hope of deterring further travelling. Therefore, please either walk to these spots or else park responsibly nearby.

Sorry for the inconvenience but like many things in life, the small number of people who ignore the rules cause problems for everyone else.

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Helen Hayes
Monday 20th April 2020 at 4:42 pm
Let me begin (clears throat) I am very lucky, I live within strolling distance of all this.

This decision flies in the face of government guidelines.

We pay Cheshire Police and Cheshire East and yer they have allocated finds for this - twice.

What a flagrant misuse of our money.

They can whistle for their council tax if they’ve the time, money and materials to go against current guidelines.

Remember, they have now put in place more robust barriers - today! Using both the police and the council.
Helen Hayes
Monday 20th April 2020 at 4:46 pm
So many people are just parking up the roads rather than using the car parks.

Shocking news. Other Police forces have not done this since the guidance came out or other councils.

It’s a problem replicated everywhere - but what an utter waste of money and resources
Helen Hayes
Monday 20th April 2020 at 4:59 pm

The Police were clear - 4 days ago


Driving to countryside where more time is spent walking rather than driving.

We are lucky to live here. We are not the Worlds Police, and I’d like to fully and completely understand why Cheshire East chose to spend this money in the face of guidance.
Mark Goldsmith
Monday 20th April 2020 at 5:54 pm

People started to travel to Wilmslow when Manchester shut their recreational area car parks around two weeks ago. We know this because our PCSO's have been speaking to these people and the numbers that are coming have continued to remain a problem.

It is not fair that our PCSO's put themselves unnecessarily in danger though by continually having to speak to these people, so we have acted on their request. The barriers are to help keep them safe and to allow them to spend more time on their many other policing duties.

The government advice on this matter currently says:

*14. Can I drive to a national park or other green space to walk?
We advise you to stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.

Our green spaces remain open and we intend to keep them open. However, this action is designed to keep our PCSO's safe and to ensure people stay local for their daily exercise. All of which are consistent with the latest government guidelines.

Paul Checkett
Tuesday 21st April 2020 at 8:54 am
As owners of Cafe Azul takeaway coffee shop, my wife and I are concerned by the closure of the Parish Hall car park at The Carrs.
Our business, which is temporarily closed due to Covid 19 restrictions, is situated within the car park.
As a takeaway we could reopen as long as social distancing was implemented.
Our concern is when we decide to reopen that, as suggested, the more sturdy - more permanent closure of the car park would restrict access for deliveries etc
I am lead to believe that the closure of such car parks were due to people congregating on the car parks.
Alan Brough
Tuesday 21st April 2020 at 10:16 am
This thread highlights the confusion that exists around lockdown, a confusion that could lead to loss of public support.

The guidelines given to frontline Police Oficers by NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council) is as follows:-

You will see that where the subject of travel to exercise is concerned, it explicitly suggests that this is allowed providing the period of exercise is significantly longer than the period of driving.

We are lucky in Wilmslow / Alderley Edge that we have easy pedestrian access to a number of open spaces where we can walk whilst fully observing the rules on social-distancing, but you only have to go a few miles North to find large densely populated areas where safe exercise and recreation will be a challenge.

Changing the subject only slightly, I'd love to know what enquiries Cllr Goldsmith and the local Police are making into the essential nature of travel undertaken by the Lamborghini, Audi and Bentley drivers that have continued to use the AE bypass as a race track for the past couple of weeks.
Graham Jackson
Tuesday 21st April 2020 at 1:31 pm
Yet travellers are still allowed to enter the country for holidays, family visits or business trips via Heathrow etc. These travellers arrive from hotspots, not checked or quarantined, and allowed to go on their merry way to visit family etc. Yet UK citizens are prohibited to drive, park a car and go for walk. Where's the consistency?
Marcia McGrail
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 at 8:37 pm
Ah, hit the nail on the head there, Graham. 'UK citizens' will always do as they're told, see; whereas the rest aren't so easily corralled. We are an easy target.
Graham Jackson
Thursday 23rd April 2020 at 11:45 am

My government shows me the diagram of one infected person multiplying into several thousand over the course of a few days.

My government also tells me that it makes no difference to the infected numbers by leaving its external borders open for many thousands of random people to enter from all over the world.

Go figure.
Simon Worthington
Thursday 23rd April 2020 at 12:18 pm
Ha Ha. More time on their many other policing duties. Plod around here seem to have used what common sense they have and decided that harassing the well educated middle class who pay their "police precept" with little moaning would not be help their already tenuous relationship with the public. I believe that the land known as the Carrs was donated to the people of Wilmslow but appears to have been commandeered by whichever council is supposed to be running the area on our behalf. Perhaps if we have a problem with 0161ers infiltrating the area then deal with that not a local who has driven a mile or two to go for a walk.
Helen Hayes
Thursday 23rd April 2020 at 1:23 pm
Can I also point out that from Twinnies car park at The Carrs, Manchester begins just 4 miles away at the junction at the top of Styal Road?

Turn left, it’s Manchester, turn right or go straight on it’s Stockport.

I stand by my quote above “permitted: driving to countryside where more time is spent walking than driving”.

Manchester and Stockport (last time I checked) don’t have dragons. Let’s be kind hey?

I’ve not been out in my car for 4 weeks, I am lucky and thankful.

But wasting Police and Cheshire East finds that I pay for -twice - nope I’m not ok with this totalitarian idealism.

We are lucky, others aren’t.
Mark Goldsmith
Friday 24th April 2020 at 11:04 am
I'm not the governments Corona Virus spokesman but feel I must counter Alan's and Helen's remarks.

Alan, the guidelines you have linked to are not for public use. They are only to help police officers decide when to issue a fine when someone breaks the governments guidelines. The advice for the public has not changed since 3rd April and remains:

14. Can I drive to a national park or other green space to walk?
We advise you to stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.

Helen, if I ask you were your local pub, shops or restaurants are, I don't think you would say they are 4 miles away in Manchester or Stockport. Invariably, they will be your nearest facilities. Therefore, (only during the lockdown) Stockport residents should be using their nearest parks in Stockport. Not the ones in Wilmslow.

Currently, the UK police have issued less than 5,000 fines for breaking lockdown rules, while French police are now at over 900,000. Therefore, there is a big gap between what the UK government says we should do and what the police will give you a fine for doing. This is perhaps a gap between acting immorally and acting illegally.

Therefore it is up to people to decide to follow the governments guidelines or else push the boundaries and get closer and closer to receiving a fine. However, if you chose the later, then you severely risk undermining the whole point of the lockdown.

So, its simple. Just Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Catherine Dixon
Saturday 25th April 2020 at 12:50 pm
My daughter has learning disabilities and autism. She can’t walk great distances. I’ve been trying to find somewhere to walk that’s shady, to protect her from hot sun. Obvious places are Alderley Edge and from Twinnies Bridge to Quarry Bank. She can’t walk from home to these places which are not more than 2 miles from home. The walk would take much longer than the drive there. But now we can’t park! She has a blue badge. This feels like not making reasonable adjustments (required by the Disability Discrimination Act). Government guidance (FAQ: what you can and can’t do, published 29.3.20) states 15.If you have a health condition that requires you to leave home to maintain your health - including travel beyond your local area - then you can do so. It refers specifically to people with learning disabilities and autism.
I’d be grateful if the Council and Cheshire Police could respond to this. If nothing else, why can’t the car parks be open to blue badge holders?
Helen Hayes
Sunday 26th April 2020 at 10:14 am

My local shop is indeed the Texaco/coop on Altrincham Road. After that I use ALDI or Tesco in Baguley, Manchester.

I also use the tip in Sharston rather than the one in Knutsford as it’s more convenient and closer to my home.

So, quid pro quo.

Let’s let people use our space. Now is not the time for NIMBY.
David Isherwood
Sunday 26th April 2020 at 10:51 pm
Mark, you say “so it’s simple” We stay at home to save the NHS and save lives.

We all know life is never “simple” so you shouldn’t be so naive. Read my comments on the Alderley lay by on the sister site.

The police are clearly struggling with the new legislation and a few are making massive errors - Derbyshire and West Yorks. The police won’t care if they upset the public on this because they don’t have to stand for re-election. It suits them to put pressure on Councils to take these steps and close car parks because it makes their job easier and means they don’t have to enforce the new laws properly. For them its win - win. The risk is all on the Council and it may be you that ends up paying the price for the Police incompetence if you’re not careful. Just remember that things are not as ‘simple’ as you think and the Councils (County and Parish) need to think hard before bowing to Police pressure.
Mark Goldsmith
Monday 27th April 2020 at 9:56 am
I will reiterate what the government expressly says about travelling for exercise:

14. Can I drive to a national park or other green space to walk?
We advise you to stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.

As some people want to wilfully misinterpret this or pretend they don't know what local means, I will try to be as clear as I can about why Lindow Common car park was closed.

It was to stop the risk of people dying.

The police (and fellow councillors) reported to me that at times, too many people were using this and two car parks at the Carrs, so that social distancing was not taking place in them. Many of the people had driven from Manchester, so were ignoring the governments guidelines to stay near to their homes to exercise. Consequently, they overloaded the car parks and caused a safety issue. Just because you never saw it happen, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It did. We therefore closed these car parks to ensure peoples lives are not put at risk. Whether this risk was very small or very large, I do not know. However, neither do you and I am not taking any risks whatsoever with anyone's life, especially when it can so easily be avoided by introducing this minor inconvenience.

Now, you may not think this a minor inconvenience, you may call call it Nimby-ism or think I am being melodramatic. However, the death of one person in Wilmslow from Covid-19 has already been reported to me, so I know it is amongst us. You may have it now or I might. Who knows? So I make no apology for closing these car parks and will not be reopening them until it is safe to do so. If this means I don't get re-elected in 2013, then so be it.

We have been asked to stay home and exercise locally for 35 days now. However, the people in Spain (where a high proportion of them live in city flats) have just ended 42 days of total lockdown. This meant no outdoor exercise for any of them. None at all, with no exceptions for age, health or pets. Just total lockdown. Even now they are only being allowed outside to exercise for 1 hour a day and within 1 km of their home. So, if they can do all this, then why can’t anyone in the UK just exercise within walking distance of where they live?

Is this really too much to ask to try and keep people safe?

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Helen Hayes
Monday 27th April 2020 at 11:15 am
Hey Mark

I completely agree this is a serious situation. Who wouldn’t?

However, I have checked with GMP - I called them - and they abide by the guideline I laid out earlier?

I do wish the government was clear.

I live, literally, across the road from Lindow Common car park and haven’t seen anything like this - night or day and I’ve been in my house for 4 weeks. But I bow to your knowledge.

However travelling 4 miles is - according to GMP - acceptable.

Look, we can’t solve this problem. It’s like trying to boil the ocean in a teacup.

But I do not understand why money is being wasted for no good ends. The Secretary of State said, during the daily address, last week that parks should be open and that it was not acceptable that they were not.

There’s too many mixed messages and too much waste of public funds in the face of Secretary of State saying parks should be open.

Of course Wilmslow has covid-19. And it’s a tragedy laid bare for us all, sadly.
Simon Worthington
Monday 27th April 2020 at 11:54 am
Councillor Goldsmith. "However, the death of one person in Wilmslow from Covid-19 has already been reported to me,"
Please elaborate.
Died in Wilmslow???
Died FROM Covid19?? There is no method in place to confirm the virus as CAUSE of death.
I know of three people locally who have died in April. NONE of them had anything to do with this virus. There is encouragement to include the virus on death certificates with no confirmation.
Given the number of elderly/infirm/ etc in this locality I'm surprised there is only one.
As for fines in France and fines in the UK there is an explanation.........
Far too many experts around. I now understand how religion took such a hold - the masses will believe almost anything!!!! Welcome back ricketts if this continues.
Helen Hayes
Monday 27th April 2020 at 12:51 pm
I do look forward to reading exactly why Cheshire Police and Cheshire East chose this unilateral decision in the face of Police guidelines and the Secretary of State stating parks should be open.

Every penny spent - contrasted with the daily briefing - hour by hour, in real time, will be a riveting read.

Transparency is all. So let’s see what the agencies said to whom, and when, and contrast that in real time against what the Secretary of State said, GMP, Cheshire Police and Cheshire East Council.

(Bet they won’t publish it)
Alan Brough
Monday 27th April 2020 at 1:37 pm

"To stop the risk of people dying?"

You believe that by corralling people in places like (for example) Heald Green rather than sharing access to open spaces like Styal Woods or The Carrs is good policy?

I'm lucky. I'm reasonably fit and can walk easily into open countryside from my door. I dont need to use a car, nor would I want to. However there will be a large number of people who cant enjoy open spaces as a direct result of your actions and they will be forced into taking their period of daily exercise walking cheek-by-jowl with their neighbours around the streets of an overcrowded suburb.

But the fact is that I suspect that you are acting outside of the guidance provided.

Even your oft-quoted article 14 provides nothing but ambiguity. The question specifically asks "Can I drive?" The answer doesn't even address the subject of driving, it simply advises "Stay local."

So I (and others) have sought clarity from The Police and we are told (clearly) that it is permissible to make a short car journey in order to undertake a period of exercise.

All we ask is clarity.
Paul Roue
Monday 27th April 2020 at 4:16 pm
Hello Alan Brough,

Your reference to "Coralling in Heald Green" actually made us laugh out loud...

It's not exactly Changtang in is it!?

But seriously back to the matter in hand, I think you misunderstand what Cllr Mark Goldsmith is saying.

It might be tough medicine but we really must stay at home.
David Isherwood
Monday 27th April 2020 at 4:43 pm
The Police have both the power and the budget to enforce these new laws. They should not put pressure on Councils to take these steps because they have neither the competence nor inclination to do their jobs properly. It is absolutely disgraceful that Councils are stepping in to do the job of the Police. I'm tired of hearing that Council resources and budgets are streched or cut back. Perhaps a good starting point would be for CEC to stop spending our money doing the job of the Police and get on with doing the job of a Council.

Mark - I have said already things aren't so simple and if you think these sorts of measures stop people you are mistaken. They just park somewhere else and carry on breaking the law. Locks only keep out honest people.
Helen Hayes
Monday 27th April 2020 at 6:23 pm
Remember in Manchester and Stockport there are Covid-19 ridden diseased people....

The fact that both places are literally up the road is not worth consideration, but worth spending our money on.

I cannot wait for the real time evaluation to be published. As all Emergency response is required to do.

I do want an hour by hour measurement against what the government published, what Cheshire East council did, what both GMP and Cheshire Police also did and required. Measured properly. Time isn’t an abstract concept.

What a waste of public funds.
Helen Hayes
Monday 27th April 2020 at 6:58 pm
Yes Alan, yes.
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 29th April 2020 at 11:52 am
I read a survey yesterday about people’s attitudes to the lock down. It said 48% of us are Acceptors of the new rules, 44% are Sufferers of them and 8% are Resistors. I think I’ve found some of the 8% in Wilmslow actively resisting them.

240 peoples have died in Cheshire hospitals from Covid-19, so statistically 6 of them will have lived in Wilmslow. We are trying to stop that number increasing.

The government states “Essential Travel Only”. However, the police will tell you how far you can travel before they will fine you. There is a big difference between the two though. Hopefully the government and the police will close this gap but I, nor Cheshire East can control that. I’m going for the safest option though.

These car parks were closed to keep people safe by ensuring social distancing takes place. You can still drive to Lindow Common and the Carrs to use them. They are open. Visitors just need to park in a road nearby now instead. However, they will be dispersed by parking in different roads, so using different gate entrances and taking different routes round these green spaces. They won’t all be focused into the same small, car parking areas. So social distancing will happen by default now, something those complaining have all overlooked.

So, you either accept this is being done for the public’s safety or you don’t. You either chose to do the most asked of you or you chose to do the very minimum. It’s up to you.

If you are one of the 92% doing the most though, then keep up the good work and don’t be swayed otherwise.
Alan Brough
Wednesday 29th April 2020 at 2:58 pm
@ Mark,

I'm pleased that you now acknowledge the disparity that exists in the advice coming from different sources and that you share my concern that the gap should be closed to provide clarity and restore confidence.

You do understand that the survey you read yesterday is flawed dont you? It's perfectly possible to be both an "Acceptor" and a "Sufferer." Indeed I'm sure that's how most of us would categorise ourselves.

The problem comes when people judge others to be "Resistors" simply because they have interpreted ambiguous advice / guidelines in a way that differs from our own understanding.

I'm sure that we all share the same goal.
Keith Chapman
Wednesday 29th April 2020 at 5:06 pm
I think Mark people should be trusted to observe government guidelines. I am personally very impressed by the discipline which has been collectively displayed. Closing car parks creates an unnecessary inconvenience, particularly for the disabled. Most aspects of the official advice is sensible, and the lockdown has prepared people for a return to work based on safe social distancing in factories and on construction sites where working remotely is not possible. The furlough scheme is working well with payments made within 7 days. Unfortunately the CBILS loan scheme is a total failure with SME’s finding it very difficult to qualify. The result is that unless we manage a phased return to work by the end of May there will be little work to return to. When the furlough scheme ends there will unfortunately be considerable redundancies. I counted 10 permanently closed retail premises in Wilmslow yesterday. There will no others to follow as many more people will be getting used to shopping on line during the pandemic. Whilst the US anti-lockdown demonstrations seem odd to Europeans the truth is that we will face record levels of unemployment if we don’t act in a timely manner to move to a new normal of socially distanced working. We can go back to work safely and it is vital that we do so.
Helen Hayes
Friday 1st May 2020 at 12:01 pm
Hey Mark

Thank you for your comments and I do appreciate there is a fast travelling dialogue on this issue. We do need clarity.

Obviously you know far more detail, as you should, as a Councillor.

When will you publish the direction from Cheshire Police/GMP/Government daily briefings/government daily briefing from Secretary of State and Cheshire East Council with a time line? Could you please give us all a date? It’s available to you now.

I dislike any soul being treated as a second class citizen

This seems so arbitrary, so many people are now forced to park on Altrincham Road to walk on Lindow Common and to entrances for the The Carrs, all on main roads. I thank god your PCSOs haven’t yet ticketed them, although I fear for people’s safety. This morning I saw a lady being helped out of a car into a wheelchair. They had been forced to park on Altrincham Road.

If you have to drive to walk - disabled/only outside space available/more walking than time spent driving - we need to help not hinder.

I’m not in the resistant category you mentioned.

But I did fact check with GMP and Cheshire East Police. They both said driving for more time walking ...... you may want to elucidate?

We, in Wilmslow, border both Stockport and Manchester.

For example, should I drive to Tatton Park (Cheshire) from my home it would be a significantly further distance than a person driving from Heald Green (Stockport) or Wythenshawe (Manchester) to use our open spaces? As I’ve said. I can stroll to all our wilmslow spaces, but they are for everybody.

Let’s be kind hey?

Can you let us know when you will publish the timeline with all agencies involved.
Helen Hayes
Tuesday 5th May 2020 at 4:49 pm
I note you’ve been removing the barricades, this is brilliant news!

Thank you.

When will you publish the detail of all agencies involved against the government timelines?
Helen Hayes
Tuesday 19th May 2020 at 10:05 pm
So. Now the barricades have been removed.

Will the Councillor, Cheshire East Council and Cheshire Police please publish the data and all relevant timelines? Set against the governments advice hour by hour. They are required to do this.

This decision impacted many. Not me as I live here but I think it’s important to hold people we pay to account.
Edith C Richards
Wednesday 20th May 2020 at 5:53 pm
I live in the centre of Wilmslow and experienced the impact of reopening the car parks first hand last Sunday. I attempted to walk my dog but was unable to let her off the lead at any point. I counted 20 separate picnics on The Carrs as people drove, parked then did the least possible exercise before sitting down to eat. A group of 8 adult women marched past me on the 90cm wide boardwalk through Styal Woods, giving me no opportunity to get out of their way and then petting my dog whilst surrounding me. The paths are 2m wide at their widest point but these were all completely dominated by groups of people walking, cycling or running. A family from Sheffield offered food to my dog as they asked for directions to Quarry Bank Mill (which remains closed).

As a result there has been a significant increase in litter. A bike had been thrown into the River Bollin just past Twinnies Bridge. I witnessed a dad breaking down saplings to play metre long pooh sticks with his toddler. The river that last week was full of fish & wildlife was now filled with paddling children (despite the 'not safe' council warnings). The woodland footpaths were full of cyclists. There were also family groups riding round Lindow Common despite the no cycling signs.

Helen, I can see you were obviously very upset that the carparks were closed. I appreciate your concerns but this is a very unusual circumstance. For myself and many other locals, especially older people, this gave us a chance to safely exercise. The reopening of the carparks has taken this away. I know many people who are now avoiding the area. I do not need people holding to account, I thank the council for closing the car parks when they did. I used to see and speak to lots of other locals on my daily dog walks - now we speak over the phone because we are all too scared to exercise. Look at the people in the parks now and you will see that there are very few people over the age of 50. All of these people have been prevented from using the parks. Previously we were the main group of people who walk there come rain or shine. I am infirm and instead of using the flat path had to struggle over the uneven grassy sections - even this was difficult as lots of space was taken up by the groups playing ball games or having picnics.I have the good fortune to live in the centre of Wilmslow but I don't have a big garden or a car to drive to other areas now it is not safe to walk out from my home.

I wish now we could have some system to allow all people to access the parks. Maybe having time slots for different users? Because currently the parks are so full it is not safe or pleasant to simply go for a socially distant walk.

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