Parking hikes could alter area’s dynamic

By Claire Tennyson

A LISBURN Road trader has said the whole dynamics of the area could drastically change following the recent announcement that parking penalties are to be increased.

Framar Health owner, Paul McConaghie, said he “was very disappointed” with the recent announcement by Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy.

“It would be different if they provided customers coming to the area with car parks or with more lay-bys but there is nothing like that on the Lisburn Road.” Paul said.

“It is going to stop people coming to the area and those that do come will end up having to park in residential areas therefore blocking off people’s homes.”

Recent calls by traders to ease the clearway restrictions in the area would help if heeded, Paul believes.

“If there was even some sort of softening considered for the clearway then this would help in some way and the traders wouldn’t mind as much but at the minute from four o’clock onwards our businesses suffer.

“I do not want people to be pushed away, if only they could provide an alternative then I wouldn’t mind so much if people are being penalised for parking illegally.”

The business owner added that the appeal of the Lisburn Road has long been its vibrant daytime economy but with rates going up, businesses closing and now the latest parking issue he feared the area would become an area for nightlife.

“This could end up changing what is attractive about the Lisburn Road. As traders we are trying to maintain business but it is almost becoming impossible for us.”

South Belfast MLA, Conall McDevitt, said the increase comes at a time when town centre retailers were struggling to get people into their stores to spend money.

“While we recognise that illegal parking is a problem, this huge hike in fines is not the way to deal with this issue, nor is an increase in car parking charges,” he said.

Along with the increase in penalty rates the minister also rolled out a list of 25 car parks where charges will now be introduced following the review.

His department needs to find £30m in order to deliver front line services.

It is hoped the increased cost of parking penalty notices will reduce the number of illegally parked vehicles and improve safety for drivers and pedestrians alike.

The original £60 parking fine was introduced when responsibility for parking enforcement was transferred from police to the Department for Regional Development in 2006 and no increases have been imposed until now.

 

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