McNulty calls for review of on-street parking

November 14, 2016

SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has called for a review of on-street parking, claiming that parking attendants are driving shoppers out of towns and city centres.

Speaking during an Assembly debate on the issue last week, Mr McNulty said his constituency office received regular complaints about parking fines, tickets and “the dreaded red coats” from local residents critical of “overzealous parking attendants or the inconsistency in their approach.”

“Shopkeepers in Newry and Armagh are telling me that the red-coats are driving trade out of our town centres and into out-of-town retail parks.  And whilst these multiples play a vital part of our economy, we must do more to protect and grow our town centres.

“Traders, particularly small independent retailers are getting it tough enough to survive at the minute.  Between competing with online shopping, the increase of business rates instigated by the NI Executive a couple of years ago not to mention the parking regimes in many of our towns and cities.”

The SDLP MLA highlighted the success of off-street parking which was transferred to local councils last year, giving local authorities the power to use ‘reduced rate parking incentives’ as a way of attracting shoppers into towns and villages.

“In Newry City, the council have set parking fees at 40p per hour or 3 hours for £1, and in Armagh City the Council have opted for 30p per hour or 5 hours for £1.  This is local decision makers making decisions which best suit their areas,” he stated.

Mr McNulty also questioned why Newry, Lisburn and Belfast are the only cities currently charging for on-street parking when it is free, with time restrictions across the rest of the North.

“We need to see the system reviewed, we need to take on board the views of the motorists, traders and delivery companies alike,” he added.

“We need to see engagement with local government, town centre groups and chambers of commerce.  We need to ensure traffic turn over but also accommodate the needs of shoppers.  Can the fee be reduced?  Can the length of time to pay a reduced fee be extended from two weeks to a month?  Do we have enough parking available in our cities, towns and villages?’

“This is an issue which can show a weary public that this place listens, that the government listens to its citizens.”