Causeway Coast and Glens Council has been urged to re-think its policy after dozens of motorists picked up parking tickets in Coleraine.
Over 30 tickets were issued in the two main town centre car parks on the first Sunday in December, according to East Londonderry MLA Maurice Bradley.
There has, Mr Bradley claimed, been “uproar” amongst shoppers after the charges were introduced in the Mall and Abbey Street sites.
The DUP representative met with the council’s chief executive on Thursday in relation to the charges and other matters.
Mr Bradley stated: “I am told that the parking charges were inherited from the legacy council.”
He added: “At this time of the year we should be encouraging people to come to our towns and stay. I have been told there were over thirty tickets issued on Sunday, this is proof that the signage in place was not sufficient.
“The sad thing is that some of those who were given fines were attending church and were horrified to return to their cars to see penalty charges of £45 on their windscreens.
“I feel that Coleraine’s parking strategy needs a total rethink, when other major towns like Ballymena and Belfast can offer shoppers free parking on a Sunday, now is the time for Coleraine to follow suit.
“High tariffs and a lack of free parking spaces is only doing one thing - it is driving people away from our town centre to out-of-town retail outlets where parking is free.”
Mr Bradley went on to remind drivers that on-street parking restrictions are not operational on Sundays
“Perhaps more people should make use of the on-street parking on a Sunday and stay away from the pay and display car parks in the town centre,” he said.
A council spokesperson pointed out the car parking strategy is presently under review.
The spokesperson stated: “Free car parking in the town was trialled in the run up to Christmas 2015 but led to increased congestion, particularly in central areas. This adversely impacted on traffic flow around Coleraine and constrained the number of shoppers getting into the retail areas at peak times.
“The council continues to offer free parking in Railway Road, Railway Place, Long Commons and Waterside on a Sunday.”
The issue is to be raised at the local authority’s Leisure and Development meeting on Tuesday.