Belfast Telegraph

Free car parking scheme to boost festive retail trade in Northern Ireland

By Victoria O'Hara and Ciara McKenna

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has introduced free on-street parking in three cities across Northern Ireland — in a bid to boost trade for hard-pressed retailers in the run-up to Christmas.

From Monday shoppers will be able to park for free every Saturday in the central zone of Belfast city centre, Newry and Lisburn until Christmas Eve.

Announcing the move yesterday, Mr Kennedy said thousands of motorists will also be able to park free of charge in those areas from 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

The scheme has been welcomed by trade and retail associations as a positive move.

The news follows the minister’s decision earlier this year that he would not proceed with the plan to roll out on-street parking charges to 30 towns and cities across Northern Ireland.

“We wanted to give a boost to hard-pressed traders, not only all over Northern Ireland but in this case Belfast, Lisburn and Newry,” Mr Kennedy said.

The minister added that he hoped the decision will be welcomed by representatives of the three cities where drivers pay for on-street parking all-year round.

“It is not going to be a panacea for all their ills but it is an attempt by |the Executive and my department |particularly to give some recognition to the trading conditions that exist |in this economically challenging |period.”

Mr Kennedy explained times for free parking were not extended during week days due to traffic management issues.

He said he had to “take account of traffic management in the city centres” and “avoid the danger of what is called block parking”.

Background

On-street car parking rates:

  • Belfast £1.20 an hour
  • Lisburn 60p an hour
  • Newry 40p an hour

The scheme runs from Monday to Christmas Eve. It will cover all on-street pay and display bays in Lisburn and Newry and Belfast city centre, including Chichester St and Wellington Place to the north, Upper Queen St and Brunswick St to the west, Victoria St, May St and Alfred St to the east and Ormeau Avenue to the south.

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