The Council had hoped ‘Christmas would come early’ when they offered a day of free parking on December 7, but the festive cheer soon evaporated for some, due what appears to have been a ‘lack’ of clear information.
Drivers using the Townsend Street car park before 11am were left in confusion, as there were no clear signs confirming the offer of free parking for that day, and the pay and display machines were available to use as normal.
Malachy Wilson arrived just before 11.15am on Saturday December 7, hoping to take advantage of the free parking. Anxious because he could see no signs advising drivers of the free parking offer, he decided to check and see what other drivers were doing.
“I checked the other cars in the car park and seven or eight others had already bought tickets and had them displayed in their windows,” said Malachy.
Not wanting to end up with a parking fine for not paying, Malachy decided to buy a ticket too. When he returned from shopping a short while later he was disheartened to discover the pay meters had been covered up while he was away, so drivers would know they did not have to pay.
“The parking meters were covered over with black bin bags and this must have been done sometime just before midday. I’d already paid 30p for my parking and although it’s no big deal, it’s just the principle of the thing. People had come to avail of the free shopping and it wasn’t there.”
At the time of going to press it was still unclear which agency was responsible for ensuring drivers were aware of the free parking day.