THE Department of Regional Development (DRD) is to consider compromising on key parking issues in Portadown following a meeting with traders this week.
The DRD will look at the possibility of extending free on-street car parking to two hours in every three instead of the current one-hour-in-two restriction.
Roads Service officials will also look again at the much-criticised new pay and display system introduced in the main car park at Magowan Buildings, with shoppers and traders saying the move is geared towards extracting revenue from motorists at the expense of helping trade in Portadown.
The issues were discussed during a meeting on Monday attended by members of Portadown Chamber of Commerce, Upper Bann MP David Simpson and three Roads Service officials.
The DRD officials also said they would study the response to the new charge parking at Magowan Buildings One, West Street and William Street when it is introduced next month.
Other measures include re-drawing single yellow lines in parts of the town centre and developing a co-ordinated parking strategy throughout the town, from West Street to Edenderry.
Meanwhile, High Street Mall has rolled out a car parking ‘bargain’.
As well as the current short-stay charges - 20p for the first two hours and higher costs after that - the mall is offering a £20-a-month tariff where drivers can park during car park opening hours.
It means that motorists can use it during all opening times of the car park, which has 541 spaces - from 7am until an hour after the closing times each week night.
The closing times are 5pm Monday and Tuesday, 9pm Wednesday to Friday and 6pm on Saturdays. The mall is open from 1pm-6pm on Sundays.
Said manager Tracey Jackson, “A number of local business people have already taken up the offer and it is now open to anyone who wants to take advantage. It works out at about 75p a day, if it is used during all hours available.”
This compares to £3.60 a day at the DRD-owned charged car parks - they start off at 40p an hour and rise on 40p increments during the day.
The High Street Mall charges can be paid monthly, quarterly or yearly, and a special ‘parking fob’ is available to drivers.