Councillors want talks over parking and travel issues

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CRAIGAVON councillors are having “straight talks” with DRD Minister Danny Kennedy over a wide range of parking and travel issues.

Angry that Portadown and Lurgan were not afforded free car parking over the Christmas trading period, their next target is ‘park and ride’ facilities convenient to the train stations at Portadown and Lurgan, better bus facilities for the two towns, and individual arrangements for each township.

It started with Councillor Ken Twyble congratulating the Minister after his visit last week to emphasise that the £3.6m facelift of Portadown station - helped by £2.4m of European money - was slightly ahead of schedule. But he added that park and ride facilities were essential if motorists were to be attracted off the roads and onto the trains.

Mayor Carla Lockhart agreed, adding that Lurgan must have the same facilities, after which Alderman Woolsey Smith criticised the lack of free parking in both towns over Christmas, and then lambasted the “lack of facilities” for buses. He stated that 40 per cent of parking spaces in the centre of Portadown - and a large proportion in Lurgan - was taken up by bus bays.

“There must be purpose-built bus stations in both towns to alleviate the traffic jams that the buses cause, with the town centres being glorified bus depots,” he said. “The DRD supplies these large bays free-of-charge for a private firm. Banbridge, for example, was provided with off-street parking and the traffic jams are nothing there compared to Portadown and Lurgan.”

Alderman Sydney Anderson turned the debate to Portadown Public Park, adding that the £6m project must have “safe access to prove the much-vaunted shared space claims”, while Alderman Stephen Moutray pointed out that taxis in Lurgan often blocked the bus bays, “causing traffic jams and ignored by the red coats”.

Councillors added that several vital issue had to be sorted out in the meeting with Mr Kennedy.