New tariff should be made ‘permanent’

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Chamber of Commerce president Adrian Farrell has welcomed the news that ‘£1-for-five-hours parking’ starts tomorrow (Saturday) in 25 Northern Ireland towns, including Portadown.

But Mr Farrell has added the caveat that it should not be just the six-month pilot scheme advocated by DRD Minister Danny Kennedy, but on a permanent basis.

Mr Farrell pointed out that the original scheme – introduced over the four-week Christmas period – was an outstanding success. “That acted as a pilot scheme and no further proof is required,” he added. “Provincial towns like Portadown are in urgent need of a boost, and the Chamber wants to see it as a permanent feature.

“We will lobby determinedly to make it permanent, as Portadown – with the parking drawback and the wardens system – has been at a significant disadvantage when compared with Rushmore.”

The main car parks like Magowan Buildings, Bridge Street and Meadow Lane will be drawn in to the scheme, with on-street parking free for an hour continuing. It worked a treat at Christmas, and the six months is a consequence to that.

Minister Kennedy announced that 25 towns and 93 Roads Service car parks were included in the scheme. The towns are: Antrim, Armagh, Ballyclare, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Bangor, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Downpatrick, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Hillsborough, Holywood, Larne, Limavady, Lisburn, Londonderry, Lurgan, Magherafelt, Newry, Newtownards, Omagh, Portadown and Strabane.

“It will be a tremendous boost for the town,” said Mr Farrell. “And it is essential that it continues, given the Christmas success. Portadown certainly needs a boost like this.”

He added that new businesses like Argento, Peacock and SD Kells were reported to be on the way, “so this parking package couldn’t have come at a better time”. Transport Minister, Danny Kennedy said, “Local retailers across Northern Ireland have told me that they are continuing to operate in a challenging environment. That was one of the main reasons why I introduced a five hours parking for £1 over the Christmas and New Year period.

“The five hours parking for £1 pilot tariff will support both the local economy and retailers in their efforts to encourage more shoppers back into towns.”

The new tariff will be introduced from April 12 and applies to car parks that have a tariff of 30p or more per hour. Drivers will still be able to pay for normal tariffs under £1.