Council urged to subsidise free parking in borough towns

DUP Councillor Carla Lockhart. INLM0911-304con
DUP Councillor Carla Lockhart. INLM0911-304con

Roads Minister Danny Kennedy has told Craigavon Council to stump up the cash to subsidise alternative parking initiatives such as free all day parking.

Craigavon councillors have called for free town parking in both Lurgan and Portadown - currently free parking is limited to one hour on the streets.

Cllr Liam Mackle

Cllr Liam Mackle

Sinn Fein Councillor Liam Mackle called for both Mr Kennedy and the new Finance Minister Simon Hamilton of the DUP to visit council to discuss it.

Ulster Unionist Cllr Colin McCusker said his party colleague Mr Kennedy had visited the borough a number of times to discuss parking.

“If we are genuinely concerned about town centres we need to go to all the ministers,” he said. And he accused the DUP of playing politics with parking after Cllr Alan Carson called for free parking in the run up to Christmas and urged more lobbying of the Department of Regional Development (DRD) on car parking.

DUP Cllr Carla Lockhart said: “To bring the Finance Minister down to look at car parking - we are going to look like fools.”

However in a statement to the Mail, a DRD spokesperson said: “The Minister is happy to discuss parking initiatives 
with councils if they wish to subsidise costs.

“On-street car parking is free in both towns with spaces in the town centres time limited to stays of one hour in any two.

“There is a risk that to provide temporary free parking in off street car parks may result in spaces being used by commuters and all day parkers thereby negating the benefit.

“It is proposed to reduce the tariff at Marley Street, Portadown to 30p for three hours. The legislation is in process and we have written to Craigavon Council advising of this.

“As part of this correspondence Roads Service proposed alterations to the names of several car parks in Lurgan to avoid confusion and better reflect local areas and sought councils views on this.”

There are 14 Roads Service car parks in Lurgan – 11 of which are free and three are charged. The average price is 30p for three hours although it shoots up to 40p per hour at Castle Lane car park.

The DRD have asked for advice in renaming six car parks at Waring Street and Moores Lane.

Mrs Lockhart queried the cost to taxpayers of naming them and asked for it to be deferred.