CRAIGAVON councillors have welcomed moves by DRD Minister Danny Kennedy to transfer responsibilities for car parking from the NI Assembly to the district councils.
Deputy Mayor Arnold Hatch said, “It’s a sensible move, and while the talks about talks are at the initial stages, I am confident it will come about, dependent on whether the financial arrangements are acceptable to the councils.”
He added that, as a council member for Portadown, new arrangements - “decided by local representatives” - were essential in the campaign to get the town up and trading again. He added, “The former arrangements when the main Magowan Buildings car park, the Bridge Street roundabout park and the one at the old Wellworths store were charge parking suited the town perfectly. They meant a sensible and intelligent mix of pay and free parking.
“But when the small Magowan Park and those at William Street were charged, it upset the balance, and - if Craigavon Borough Council is given powers - that should be the mix in future. I am confident that all partes would agree. Portadown has particular problems given the proximity of Rushmere which has free parking and that will be exacerbated when Asda is trading at Edenderry and free parking will be provided there as well.”
The announcement was made by Mr Kennedy at the UUP annual meeting at the Titanic building on Saturday, which Mr Hatch attended.
Mr Hatch went on, “This is the first sign of any Minister in the Executive willing to transfer a function which allows local discretion in our towns and cities. Obviously it will be subject to proper financial agreements being made, but it is a step in the right direction.
“While the Planning Service is still not fit for the needs of the economy or the environment, it gives the councils some more meaningful powers going forward to local government reorganisation, and hopefully planning, community planning and the power of general competence will follow by 2014-2015.