Car parking charges ‘should be reduced not increased’

CAR parking charges should be cut not increased to help beleaguered Ballymoney businesses, the town’s mayor has said.

An increase in the cost of parking locally kicked in on Monday.

A Department of Rural Development spokesperson said: “Car parking charges in the Department for Regional Development’s Roads Service charged car parks in Ballymoney will increase from 5 September 2011.

“The following car parks will be affected: Castle St and Church St/Main St.

“The car park increases will generally raise the tariffs by 10p per hour and will be rolled out across Northern Ireland on an incremental basis over the next few weeks.

“The increases will encourage turnover of car parking spaces which will help to improve traffic management and promote the commercial and tourist vitality of our towns.

“Legislation for this increase was approved by the Assembly in March 2011 and this has been advertised in the local press.

“This is the first tariff rise in a number of years, some have not increased in 12 years, and the increases will bring charges closer to private sector car parking prices. This will contribute towards the cost of Roads Service parking operations.

“Roads Service currently manages 132 charged car parks across Northern Ireland; 123 of these car parks will have the tariffs increased, six will stay the same, and three will have reduced tariffs.”

Ballymoney mayor DUP councillor Ian Stevenson said he felt the timing of the increases was not ideal given the current financial climate.

“In order to help meet financial requirements, brought about by UK government cuts, these increases have been implemented,” he said.

“While cuts are being implemented, I do not feel the appropriate people are being focused on, and it is ordinary people who have to suffer, who are already struggling.

“Ballymoney town centre needs incentives in attracting more shoppers into the town not more deterrents. I would far rather see charges reduced to these car parks or removed rather than an increase. By helping local business, the economic output would increase in a more positive way for local communities.”

Cllr Stevenson added: “The rise could have been worse and other car parks could have had charges applied so for that I am thankful.

“I am sure that local shoppers and employees will find ways of adjusting to the rise in charges in these car parks, though they should not have too.”