Plea for no more parking charges

CAR parking charges in Banbridge town cetre could have a detrimental effect on local businesses, the area’s MP has warned.

Upper Bann MP David Simpson has written to DRD Minister Danny Kennedy urging him to abandon any plans to introduce car park charging at the free section of the Downshire Road car park in Banbridge town centre.

Mr Simpson described such a move as “a knife plunged into the heart of the local business community”.

He said, “I have been approached by some local members of the business community who are deeply concerned at this proposal.

“Just before Christmas the DRD Minister was able to announce free on street car parking for places like Belfast, Lisburn and Newry. Very regrettably Banbridge, which is sandwiched right between Lisburn and Newry, had no similar provision for off street car parking during that period of time. Now Banbridge is faced with this car parking double whammy that will see additional charging introduced into the town.”

The politician said the move could affect shop staff as well as customers.

“This measure would have a detrimental impact on a number of fronts,” he said. “First it would seriously hit local employees and retailers who have to park all day across the entire working week in the town centre and who will now find a serious dent made in their monthly income.

“It will also come as a blow to many senior citizens who use this particular car park because of the way in which it makes it easier for them to cope with the steep hill in the town centre.

“I have written to Minister Kennedy urging him to have second thoughts on what would be a car parking knife plunged into the heart of the local business community.

“I will continue to press for an about turn. I hope that this can be avoided. Along with the rest of Northern Ireland, Banbridge retailers need to be given every possible assistance in these very difficult financial and economic times. What we don’t need are Ministerial decision that actually make it harder to do business.”

No-one from Roads Service was available for comment at the time of going to print.