Sensible parking must be end result
A PARKING system that actually works is essential for Portadown town centre, worked out by people who know the area intimately, and who can deliver a proper mixture of pay and free parking that will move the town from its current static state and place it on the road to retail recovery.
Local councillors - in consultation with the commercial leaders of the town - are best-placed to come up with a formula that could work. And the proposals by DRD Minister Danny Kennedy to transfer responsibilities for car parking from the NI Assembly to the district councils are certainly worth a try. Many feel that overall free parking, as is the case at Rushmere, should pertain in the town - with the traffic wardens banished for ever - but that simply would not work.
Rushmere doesn’t have the commercial office space of Portadown, with its attendant all-day parking, so a proper ‘mix’ of pay parking (with rates that won’t chase away the shopper) and free parking must be carefully worked out, simply for the benefit of the town and not to bolster the coffers of any political emporium. And if the pay areas are ‘policed’ by wardens, they must show a modicum of flexibility, sadly missing in the current set-up.
As a Craigavon councillor said during a recent Civic Centre debate on the issue, the ‘mix’ wasn’t too far from the ideal when there were charges just at the main Magowan Building car park, at the main Bridge Street area and at the Meadow Lane (the old Wellworths spaces). The only dubious one is Bridge Street which is rarely used, except as a short cut for motorists from the old ‘Regal’ side across to Castle Street.
But that’s for the new regime to decide, and the driving force must, first and last, be the good of Portadown town centre, and not making money as has been the failed ethos of the system so far. Town centre businesses contribute to a massive rates bill every year, and don’t even have their bins emptied despite their involuntary contributions to the running of the council’s services, which add up to £26m a year. A sensible parking plan is the least the traders deserve, and the council must deliver.
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Weather for Portadown
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North west