A four year campaign by a Lurgan business to have charges at a car park overturned has been victorious - prompting praise for the local council.
The owner of long-standing business McKerrs in Union Street, Stephen McKerr, led a high profile campaign to have the charges lifted.
However despite numerous articles and petitions to the then Roads Service which had control of Moore’s Lane off-street car park, nothing changed.
Two weeks ago, almost two years after the introduction of Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council who then took over responsibility for car parking, the charges were lifted.
Mr McKerr is delighted the car parking charges have been overturned.
Since 2012 the firm has been campaigning to lift the car parking charges which led to a substantial drop in business for the Union St company.
Mr McKerr said when the charges were first introduced, they had a significant impact on local trade. Customers started to get tickets in the car park and this caused upset.
“Over a period of time people couldn’t be bothered stopping, it was too much hassle. So then the sales started to drop down a bit,” he said. “It obviously didn’t have a very good effect on business.”
There had been several meetings with local politicians and officials from the Roads Service and the Council. Indeed until the charges were lifted the car park remained empty the vast majority of the time.
Mr McKerr praised local councillors and Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council and the Lurgan Mail for helping to achieve the result.
“It’s been a combination of local councillors, a petition that we ran, the Lurgan Mail in printing articles and video which has definitely helped us in keeping the awareness up and Facebook,” he said.
Mr McKerr believes the constant pressure to the Roads Service and then subsequently the local council proved the major factor in having the charges lifted.
“We just never gave up on it. And the Council started to listen,” he said. He added that the three hour limit is to discourage all day parking and encourage shoppers.
Since the charges have been lifted the car park has been full.
Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council spokesperson said: “Following a cost review, it has been agreed to remove car parking charges in Moore’s Lane/Connolly Place car park, effective from 1 January 2017.
“Car parking will be free for a maximum stay of three hours, which will be monitored and enforced by traffic attendants.”