A WOODHOUSE Street trader is refusing to pay two parking fines issued within seven days of each other, claiming he would rather go to prison than pay up.
Nigel Armstrong, who runs N.A. Sports, said the lack of a loading bay in the street means he has no choice but to park outside his shop.
Mr Armstrong was loading rubbish items into his car boot before going to Fairgreen amenity centre when the traffic attendants swooped.
The businessman received his first ticket on August 6 before getting a second on Monday.
Mr Armstrong labelled the situation an “absolute disgrace” and claimed he had never experienced any problems parking outside the shop until last week.
“The car was parked outside and I had the boot open for the rubbish. At the minute I am busy preparing merchandise for Portadown FC so I need to keep the shop free. The car boot was open and the traffic warden saw that. The traffic wardens know me, they know my car. I’ve been here seven years and I’m not paying either fine.
“I’d rather go to jail - there’s no chance on earth that I will pay it. We’re retailers, we’re paying rents and we have to deal with this.”
Mr Armstrong claimed that when he confronted the traffic attendant on Monday, he got a “shrug of the shoulders” in response. “I then ripped up the fine and threw it on the ground,” he added.
The businessman has asked DUP Councillor Robert Smith to put pressure on the Road Service to address the situation. Mr Smith says attendants need to adopt a more “discretionary approach” when dealing with the public, in particular traders who are ‘restricted’ on where they can park their business vehicles.
“The problem for Nigel is that he can’t park at the back of his store and has to park at the front and unfortunately the parking regulations don’t work for him. There needs to be some sort of slack shown to him. Something needs to be done to consider the business owners,” said Mr Smith.
“All we’re asking is a little bit of reason, a wee bit of discretion.
Footfall is falling and we’re in the middle of a recession so businesses are facing that plus increased competition. On top of that business owners are trying to earn themselves money and keep staff.”
Mr Armstrong is the latest trader to complain of ‘draconian’ parking regulations. Earlier this year the Yellow Door Restaurant owner, Simon Dougan, spoke out against traffic attendants after he was issued with two tickets in one morning for parking his delivery vehicles on the pavement at the bottom of Woodhouse Street.
Thomas Vaughan, of Tom Moses Exclusive Interiors, also complained about difficulties parking outside his store. The Portadown Times also reported that Woodhouse Street was the third most ticketed street in Portadown last year, with 218 penalty notices issued.
In response, DRD spokesperson said, “Drivers must be actively engaged in loading or unloading of vehicles. Any period of inactivity in excess of ten minutes for commercial vehicles and five minutes for private vehicles may result in a penalty charge notice being issued. Drivers have the right to challenge a PCN if they feel it has been incorrectly issued.
“Drivers have a responsibility to make sure they are familiar with the Highway Code and understand parking restrictions. Traffic attendants are required to enforce against any vehicle parked in contravention of parking restrictions.”