Parking charges are shot down by council

Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim. (Photo: Tourism NI)
Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim. (Photo: Tourism NI)

Causeway Coast and Glens Council has voted to overturn its decision to introduce seasonal parking at tourist hotspots.

The divisive measure was defeated at a meeting of the council by 18 votes to 14 on Tuesday evening.

Originally the plan had been backed by 21 votes to 11, but that decision was called-in by the six-strong group of Ulster Unionists on the council.

A spokesman for the group said they were pleased that a number of councillors had reversed their positions on the issue since the initial voted was taken at the start of the month.

“We are delighted that a number of councillors from across the political spectrum have deviated from their original decision to back us in our bid to quash seasonal charges at a number of car parks across our coastal towns and villages,” he said.

“ We appreciate the pressures council face in relation to costs associated with the upkeep of car parks which we adopted from central government in the last number of years.

“We also appreciate that a number of issues relating to car parking in Coleraine, Ballymoney, Limavady etc have come to the surface during this debate.

“We have made it clear from the outset that we are well aware of the costs involved with adopting scores of car parks from central government, but feel that the recent recommendation to implement a blanket charge across our tourist hotspots was a knee-jerk reaction with little thought given to the impact on local residents and our tourist industry.

“Going forward we intend to work alongside council staff and other political parties to develop a fair and common sense approach to car parking, including maintenance costs and which car parks should generate an income.”

Independent councillor Padraig McShane also opposed the charged which would have affected sites in Ballintoy, Ballycastle, Portballintrae, Portrush and Portstewart.

“The car parking charges proposed were for some of the most iconic parts of our tourism trail in the Causeway Coast & Glens,” he said.

“The proposal ran against our aspirations as a tourism destination.

“Charging in Ballintoy Harbour, Portrush or Ballycastle seafront was sending the wrong signals to those we should be welcoming to our Borough.

“In addition, not enough consideration has been given to local residents who are obliged to use these car parks due to on-street parking laws.”