Calls for free parking to help local businesses

Stephen McKerr at Moores Lane Car Park
Stephen McKerr at Moores Lane Car Park

A Lurgan trader has reported substantial losses and blamed ‘over-zealous’ traffic wardens at the Borough’s least profitable car park.

Nigel Carson of McKerr’s in Union Street slammed the local council for failing to come to the aid of rate-paying businesses.

He and owner Stephen McKerr have been pleading with Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to introduce a free hour’s parking at Moore’s Lane Car Park since they took over ownership a year and a half ago.

Mr Carson said, that despite having a meeting with some Lurgan councillors two months ago, nothing has been done.

One customer revealed how he had been the only person parked in the car park and after returning from McKerr’s discovered he had received a parking ticket - apparently due to the fact that one of his tyres was slightly over the white line.

Mr Carson spoke of another customer who walked away from buying £200 worth of goods due to a traffic warden. He said the man had parked his vehicle and trailer on the side of the road across from the double yellow lines. However, he was ticketed as his vehicle breached an ‘invisible line which marked the opening of the car park’.

“It is this type of over-zealous ticketing that is causing us problems,” he said.

Recent council documents revealed that the internal auditor queried the frequency of collections at pay and display meters in the borough. It transpired that the average cash lifts per car park per collection varies from £125.38 for Moore’s Lane, Lurgan, to £1,851.06 for Commercial Road, Banbridge.

Mr Carson said they had met with local councillors and a council official to call for changes to the car parking regulations - simply asking for an hour’s free parking.

“It is the worst car park in Lurgan. Traffic wardens appear to be hanging around putting customers off parking there,” he said.

He accused the council of ‘dragging their heels’ and said that since the new super council took over more than a year and a half ago, little has been done.

Owner Stephen McKerr said: “This is affecting our business. We are paying corporation tax and business rates yet we have to pay hundreds of pounds a month to have our own bins emptied.”

SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson, who has been liaising with local businesses on the matter, said he had put forward proposals to have at least a half hour free parking at Moore’s Lane.

He explained the council are currently reviewing the car park situation across the borough and he would be disappointed if ‘we do not get positive feedback on this’.

A spokesperson for ABC Council said: “Council owns and is responsible for the management of off-street car parks but the management of traffic attendants is carried out by the Department for Infrastructure on behalf of Council. Council has direct control over a number of carparks and is aware of the issue over charging of the Moore’s Lane carpark and has given a commitment to review the charging policy accordingly.”