Mid Ulster Council are aware of the “detrimental impact” the introduction of parking charges will have on local town centres, according to Harry Hutchinson of the Campaign Against Car Park Charge.
In an open letter to councillors this week, Mr Hutchinson claimed that the local council is aware of the benefits of free parking.
“Over the Xmas period Mid Ulster Council billboards openly boosted that a town (Cookstown) in Mid Ulster offered free car parking, in order to encourage shoppers,” he said. “It is clear the council are aware of the detrimental effect parking charges have on town centres. The council now want to introduce charges in this town.”
A public consultation on the council’s 10-year strategy relating to parking in the district came to an end last month, and members are expected to consider its findings in the coming weeks before making a decision.
Mr Hutchinson said: “The Mid Ulster Council has recommended to continue car park charges in existing parks currently charged and introduce charges in ones currently free. Some parks will have the charges increased.
“The consultation process was a shambolic and sinister attempt by bureaucratic council officials to introduce parking charges, without involving the public nor clearly offering alternatives to parking charges.”
He claimed the majority of people in the district wanted free parking and demanded councillors to seize the initiative from “council bureaucratic officials” and use their powers to introduce free off street car parks in all towns and villages in Mid Ulster.
A council spokesperson said “Consultation on the off-street car parking proposals opened on 2 October and closed on 29 December. As we have emphasised previously, the consultation was widely advertised, including in a magazine delivered to 55,000 homes across Mid Ulster in mid-November.
“We welcomed and encouraged all responses and now that the consultation has closed, those responses will be compiled and analysed before a report on the outcome is considered by the Council.”