‘Put businesses first to solve parking dilemmas’ - MLA

Ulster Unionist Party MLA Jenny Palmer 'Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Ulster Unionist Party MLA Jenny Palmer 'Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

A local MLA has challenged the Stormont Executive to address on-street parking dilemmas which many areas of Lisburn face.

During an intense debate about on-street parking, Jenny Palmer called on the executive to have pro-active policy of putting businesses first.

She said: “All of us should be seeking to ensure smooth traffic flow in our towns and cities and that people can access parking spaces so that they can do business. It is essential that we support local traders and ensure that our town centres remain vibrant.

“However, we have to strike a balance because every car in a parking space means that this is one parking space that cannot be used by another motorist or shopper.

“It is important that we have proper regulation to ensure turnover and not have a large number of motorists driving around town centres searching for parking spaces because people are not moving from them.”

“Obviously, it would be great if we could free up parking everywhere, 24 hours a day. Nobody likes to pay for parking but, by the same token, people also want to access parking at locations convenient to where they want to shop or do business.

“It leads us to look for a comprehensive set of measures, which could include looking at reducing business rates in small towns and villages. We are certainly open to the review of parking charges and measures as to how we can support town centres.

“There is certainly merit in exploring the impact which a comprehensive strategy would have.

“We should also remember that most of the car parks were transferred to local government and are now run by councils, so they would obviously have to be consulted for their views of any overhaul. Indeed, devolving parking to councils is something that must be considered seriously.

“With regard to the call for on-street parking time limits to be extended in rural towns and villages, as I have already stated, nobody likes to pay for parking but, by the same token, people want to be able to access parking at locations where they want to do business.

“Extending time limits could cause congestion, causing greater inconvenience for people who want to park but are unable to find a space. We must be aware of the law of unintended consequences.

“Finally, as UUP Spokesperson on Infrastructure, I call on the Minister for Infrastructure to review urgently the contract for on-street parking,” said Assembly member Mrs Palmer.