Only 24% of businesses in Craigavon responded to a council survey on parking after it organised a ‘free parking day’ in Lurgan and Portadown.
Despite clamours that parking is a major reason for the decline in Lurgan and Portadown town centres, only 100 businesses responded (24% of the total survey sample).
The survey followed an initiative in December whereby Craigavon Council in conjunction with DRD Roads Service organised the free parking day at town centre car parks on one Saturday in December.
There was a positive feedback from shopper surveys and officers wrote to Lurgan and Portadown Chambers of Commerce requesting them to write to the Minister for Regional Development highlighting the benefits and requesting the Minister take this initiative forward in 2014. Last week an initiative was launched allowing five hours’ parking for £1.
At a recent Council Development Committee meeting DUP Cllr Alan Carson said this initiative was a positive step led by the Development department and the figures should be well publicised.
However, Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Mackle said he was not as positive as Councillor Carson as only a quarter of businesses had responded. He said parking was not going to be the saviour of the town centres.
The Chairman, Councillor Carla Lockhart said that this was not going to be what sorted out the economic issues of the town centres but the comments from traders were important and helped going forward. She said it proved that council was prepared to put its head above the parapet and do something central government should be doing.
Councillor Johnathan Buckley commended the report and said it was positive. He said in the future with a more planned out approach, this could be successful for the town centres.
Cllr Lockhart said it was not the responsibility of the Department for Finance Minister, but the Department of Regional Development, and it needed to be stressed that car parking charges need to be done away with.
In response to a query from Ulster Unionist Cllr Meta Crozier, the Chairman said there was nothing concrete yet as to whose responsibility parking would be in the new Council.