IT could cost employees in Banbridge town centre more than £800 a year to park near their place of work, if new proposals come into effect.
With charges of 40p an hour on the brink of being introduced to Downshire Place North, Townsend Street and Bridge Street East car park near Gospel Lane, the total charge for parking could amount to £846 - based on nine hours a day, five days a week for 47 weeks of the year.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy revealed his proposals last month and indicated that they would be put in place in June.
A town centre worker this week joined the voices arguing against the proposals, saying the town can only suffer as shoppers stay away and tourism takes a hit.
Writing to town councillor Jim McElroy, the person refuted the Minister’s suggestion that the charges will give the town an increased turnover.
“Banbridge town has undergone fantastic refurbishment and is a wonderful shopping town,” said the worker. “I do believe that the proposed enforcement of charges pushing free parking out of the town centre, and the general population feeling the financial pressure as it is, will cause a great inconvenience to shoppers both from Banbridge and visiting from further afield. Thids will have a direct negative effect on the tourist vitality of the town.”
The employee said the charges will have a knock-on effect for all who use the town centre.
“These parking charges will not just affect individuals such as myself working in the town centre but also the town centre tradesmen - where to park delivery vans?
“These new parking charges are more than just a major inconvenience - they are an insult to the working community of Banbridge town centre.”
Councillor McElroy said he agreed wholeheartedley with the local worker, adding that businesses are once again being penalised.
“Businesses are finding tough enough as it is in this tough economic climate,” he said. “And now with these new charges not only are their customers suffering but their staff are too if they cannot avail of free parking to do an honest day’s work.”