Tuesday, 11 April 2017

ONLY Belfast had more on-street car parking penalty charge notices (PCN's) issued in 2016 than Newry.

Belfast had 32,802 PCN's issued last year, while Newry's 6,379 eclipsed even that of Derry City which had 5,477.

Newry's figure is a dramatic jump from the previous year, when the figure was 4,174.

There are equally startling figures, as regards PCN's issued in the off-street car parking category.

In 2015, there were 2,411 such notices, whilst last year this had leapt to 3,134.

The figures for 2015, which were released by the Department of Infrastructure also break down the total by town.

These totals reveal, incredibly, that while Ballynahinch had 67 tickets issued and Downpatrick had 381, Newry had a whopping 1,956.

Warrenpoint, had, for the entire year, just seven.

The Chief Executive of the Newry Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Mary Meehan told the Democrat that they had recently met with the Head of the Enforcement Unit of the Department of Infrastructure, who is charged with managing the contract with NSL Limited, the company which polices and enforces both on and off-street parking.

“While it was good to have engagement, it was very clear from the Head of the Unit that no discretion could be afforded to the general public and that traffic wardens from every city receive the same training and follow the same guidelines to ensure consistency of application," said Ms Meehan.

“We made a very robust argument against the fact that there were three traffic wardens patrolling the city centre between the hours of 08.30 and 18.00 which we feel is hugely excessive.

“A positive outcome from our meeting was the commitment to convene a further meeting / audit with the Department's Traffic Engineer. We would hope that a proper audit of Loading bay provision as well as reviewing paid parking space would be considered."

Meanwhile Newry BID manager Eamonn Connolly, in describing parking as "an emotive and real issue," said that the business organisation have been actively engaged in trying to establish facts and seek to help with solutions.

“Our monthly surveys of visitors and shoppers to Newry consistently show parking as the greatest concern," said Mr Connolly.

“The surveys also show, interestingly, that convenience is more important than price.

“We have found that there are a broad spectrum of opinions on parking amongst businesses in Newry but the one constant is its need to be improved

“For example, some traders are primarily concerned with loading bay access.

“Other traders are frustrated by all day parkers preventing access to their shops. One particular problem is people parking and then going to Belfast on the bus to work.

“The BID, along with the Chamber of Commerce and Trade, has engaged directly with Council and ARUP on their strategic review of parking for the District. We encouraged members to make submissions for the strategic review and we engaged extensively on the matter."

The Democrat contacted the Department of Infrastructure for a comment on the figures and received the following statement: "Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)/Warning Notices are issued when vehicles are found to be parked in contravention of waiting restrictions.

“The objective is to discourage illegal parking which in turn, reduces traffic congestion, improves road safety, frees up parking space and improves accessibility for all road users, including Blue Badge holders.

“Of course, the Department would prefer that those parking in our towns and cities park legally, as to do otherwise has knock on impacts for many more people trying to get around both by car and on public transport".


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