Upper Bann MLA Sydney Anderson this week kicked off a determined campaign “to introduce some common sense into Portadown’s town centre parking”.
The DUP man is writing to DRD Minister Danny Kennedy to start the ball rolling with what he terms “an emergency measure” to re-introduce the barrier system at the main Magowan Building car park, “which is plagued by the redcoats and which is a vital element – wasted – in the town’s business life.”
He added, “The demise of Portadown and other market towns is more complex than simple car parking. The town is superbly fixed for car parking, but it isn’t properly managed by any stretch of the imagination. I called at Magowan Buildings car park late on Tuesday morning when it should have been well-filled. But the redcoats were on the prowl and I was even asked whether a car without a ticket was mine.
“It wasn’t, but the driver had just parked, was getting his ticket, and I told the attendant. It’s that fraught. People buy their tickets and go shopping on tenterhooks in case they are hit by the £45 fine – it’s chasing countless shoppers away from the town, especially with Rushmere and its free parking so handy.
“My information is that Rushmere shopping has gone up more than 10 per cent, while Portadown is struggling. I was furious when I read recently than parking fines in the Craigavon Borough Council area had doubled last year to £7,000, while other towns in Northern Ireland had reduced.
“I believe that the redcoats here are over-zealous. They are heaping grief on retailers and shoppers, and Portadown isn’t the only town to suffer.”
Mr Anderson says the barrier system, which “works perfectly in High Street Mall”, should return to Magowan Buildings.
A spokesperson for the DRD said that a pay-by-phone system called Parkmobile offered the same benefits as manned car parks, and that leaflets explaining the system had been distributed in Portadown by staff, adding that the DRD was willing to work with the Portadown Times to further promote it.