Time for action on car parking strategy

Community News
Community News

The time for concerted action on Portadown’s car parking system – and the seeming folly of many parking fines – is overdue, with the new ABC Council set to take responsibility in what has been a long-running sore.

There has never been a cogent parking policy for a town which is blessed with superb car parks – we’re virtually surrounded by them – and yet traders will tell you that, despite this surfeit of spaces, they have never been utilised properly, with over-zealous wardens a main reason “why shoppers are virtually chased out of town”.

And that is why we the Portadown Times – in league with the Chamber of Commerce – is calling on the new council to get its act together when parking responsibilities are devolved to the ‘ABC’ group. In fact, we exhort the new council to immediately contact the DRD (which will retain the powers for a year or two) to introduce a coordinated system.

When the redcoats were privatised a few years back, it sent out the wrong message. Their raison d’etre seemed to be for the profits of their company, not for the overall commercial good of Portadown. From the start, there has been a steady stream of controversial stories for the Portadown Times, and after a lull they are flowing as relentless as ever. Here are recent examples -

A 91-year-old woman parked in a disabled space in West Street. Her Blue Badge was upside down (badge still had correct side displayed). Refunded on appeal.

The owner of Superglaze in Bridge Street parked with ‘nose’ of van into his own alleyway. There was lots of room on pavement outside but DRD said whole van had to be in alleyway, even though the owner needed room to manoeuvre with glass.

Traders in Woodhouse Street, including Simon Dougan (18 tickets), Thomas Vaughan and Nigel Armstrong often had to park on pavements due to shortage of loading bays.

A teacher parked in virtually empty Marley Street car park, a foot or two over white line.

A disabled woman parked in William Street for six minutes after she urgently needed to use the toilet. She had parked her car “half-way on a parking space and half way on an unloading bay”.

Of course, disciplined parking is required to maintain a sensible mix of free and charged parking, and to keep the roads from being clogged up with people who park without consideration for traffic flow. But common sense must be used at all times.

Chamber of Commerce president Adrian Farrell has issued a common-sense statement to the Portadown Times this week. He has much praise for the DRD for the introduction of the £1-for-five-hours parking, the free-for-an-hour parking in the main streets, the free December Saturday scheme, plus the co-operation of privately owned car parks at High Street Mall and the Meadows.

It has, in the main, been un-coordinated and this is where the new council comes in. They must come up with a scheme that will attract shoppers to Portadown and at least give the town a level playing field with the Rushmeres of this world.