Parking tickets issued in Banbridge have trebled since 2010, according to statistics released by the Department for Regional Development.
Local retailers who feel the aggressive ticketing campaign is driving trade away and unhappy customers, are both questioning the reason for this steep rise in penalty charge notices, with 3,102 issued in 2012/2013 as compared to only 1,078 issued in 2010/2011.
The Department for Regional Development has defended the robust campaign in the area. A spokesperson said: “Traffic Attendants can only issue a parking ticket to vehicles parked illegally and the increase in tickets issued between 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 reflects the fact that more vehicles were detected parked in contravention.
“However, the majority of the increase in tickets issued between 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 is a result of three previously free car parks in Banbridge converting to Pay and Display - Bridge Street East, Downshire Place and Townsend Street - this increased the overall number of paid and therefore enforceable car parking spaces in the town by almost 220.
“The majority of tickets issued in off-street car parks were for failing to display a pay and display ticket or parked beyond the expiry time of the paid parking. We would appeal to all drivers to observe the parking restrictions to avoid getting a Penalty Charge Notice. We do not want to issue tickets and considerable efforts are made to make drivers aware of parking restrictions but regrettably some drivers continue to offend and as a result will receive a parking ticket.”
Local traders, however, are angry. Caroline Shaw, owner of Eden Health Stores in Banbridge said: “Banbridge is a brilliant shopping town but increasingly people feel under pressure to get back to their cars to avoid penalty charges. Of course we need traffic wardens and we have to have rules, but this level of ticketing is ludicrous in a wee rural town.
“I feel as if they are working under a façade of looking like it’s for the good of the people and keeping traffic moving but in actual fact it seems more about making money and they aren’t interested at all in the effect it’s having on local economy.”
Councillor Marie Hamilton said: “It’s a ridiculous number of tickets that have been issued. We all know we have to stick to the law, but this aggressive campaign can’t be good for shoppers and things are difficult enough for traders at the minute as it is, so I would hate to think that Banbridge was being abused and unfairly targeted. Questions need to be asked and I will be speaking to the DRD to find out more about this issue.”