Belfast Telegraph

Parking permits for Markets?

By Helen McDowell

Residents and commuters are on a collision course over parking in one Belfast neighbourhood.

Fed-up householders in the Markets area have endured years of commuters parking literally on their doorstep.

Now, a community representative is hoping a free residents' parking permit scheme will resolve the problem.

Gerard Davison (pictured), of the Markets Development Association, said: "We are trying to sort out a common sense approach here, between the community and the DRD (Department for Regional Development)."

The Association has written to Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, asking him to consider introducing a pilot residents' parking permit scheme.

It would be piloted in one street, would be free and would grant each of the homes affected two parking permits.

He stressed any such scheme would first go out to consultation, giving local residents the final say on it. If successful, it could be rolled out across the estate.

He said the daily parking problems are putting local lives at risk.

Showing the Community Telegraph the extent of the problems on Monday (4th), he said: "The cars may not be parked illegally but try to get a bin lorry through, or the emergency services, the fire brigade or ambulance. People can't get out because there's cars maybe two or three deep on a street outside their drive.

"Really, the community has turned into a car park, a dumping ground for people who work in the city.

"I can understand if people come to Belfast and don't have a high paid job, but they are ruining the community they are parking in."

Parked cars snake along Stewart Street, the main road through the Markets, and down narrow side streets, where some residents have resorted to traffic cones and breezeblocks against kerbs in an attempt to prevent vehicles blocking them.

Parents with prams, older people with mobility aids and others have to daily take a detour into the road because pavements are partially obstructed by cars.

In the past, tensions have on occasion spilled over into protest, with residents blocking the road into the Markets to prevent drivers entering.

Some cars have also been damaged.

Residents are, however, tolerant of parking related to the Friday St George's Market. "There's a bit of an understanding about that, because it's part of our DNA, to be frank with you," said Mr Davison.

He expects to hear back from the DRD in the coming week.

A similar parking permit scheme proposed previously failed to get off the ground, when the community vetoed it which, Mr Davison believes, was due to 'scaremongering' about how it might impact on households. This time however, he believes it will get a more sympathetic response.

"By and large the community is in support of the scheme which could help resolve this problem.

"We are not trying to push this onto anyone, but it's our job as a community association to try to deliver a solution.

"We will put a number of proposals to the community and the community will decide," he said.

The move has, he added, already won the support of two local councillors Deirdre Hargey and Catherine Curran.

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