LOCAL politicians have been urged to focus on realistically dealing with the parking charges issue and lobby on a united front to have one hour free parking spaces in Lurgan.
A spokesperson for Lurgan Forward said that while both that organisation and Lurgan Chamber of Commerce had actively lobbied against charges, they acknowledged ‘some sort of control has to be maintained over parking’.
He said: “The current issues along Millennium Way car parks need to be looked at in a realistic and positive light. When the road was constructed the smaller car parks were left to service businesses in the immediate area with convenience parking to facilitate shoppers who were maybe only visiting one or two shops.
“When Lurgan Forward surveyed these parks last year, they were found to contain a high percentage of all day parkers which totally defeated the purpose they were constructed for.
“The introduction of parking charges has changed this and is a step in the right direction. However, the proposal by members of the Chamber of Commerce at meetings to lobby for the first hour to be free in these car parks is the policy that Lurgan Forward and the Chamber are following,” said the spokesperson.
“Various members have been strong advocates of this in the past and it does appear to be the sensible outcome to utilise the car parks to their maximum potential for shoppers and businesses alike.”
The spokesperson used Ballycastle as an example where traders give shoppers a discount to pay the car park charge.
“This scheme has been effective so far,” he said.
“Town centres need to adopt and evolve to a new age, however, they need to be allowed to compete on level terms with out-of-town shopping.
“Within the borough we have the problem that the regional shopping centre at Rushmere was designated a town centre and yet it totally escapes parking charges to the detriment of Lurgan and Portadown.
“We need all our political representatives to lobby tirelessly not only to resolve problems within the town but to look at factors which are harmful to the town and are not being addressed,” said the spokesperson.
“If Craigavon is to have three true town centres, they all need to be treated equally. However, everyone recognises that there is an elephant in the room so to speak and this issue is being ignored much to the detriment of Lurgan over the years.
“If all our political representatives would focus on and lobby for this positive outcome it would be of great benefit not only to the community they represent but the whole of Northern Ireland,” said the spokesperson.