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Poll: Should Belfast's car parks be free all year, and not just for Christmas?

Published 17/12/2015

Free or cheaper car parking could bring more into the city, councillor Rodgers says.
Free or cheaper car parking could bring more into the city, councillor Rodgers says.

A Belfast city councillor has called for consideration to be given to reducing car parking fees in the city or scrapping them altogether.

But should publicly owned car parks be free? Take our poll below.

Over the Christmas period, the council's 30 off-street car parks are free after 6pm between Monday and Friday and all day Saturday. They are free all year on Sunday.

<<<Which car parks are free?>>>

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said he "would love" to be able to extend that to cover the whole year on this morning's Stephen Nolan Radio Show.

The east Belfast representative said the Christmas relaxation of charges over the festive period was costing the council around £40,000 in income.

He said: "What I would like to point out is that car parks are a great source of revenue. 

"If we want to attract more people into our city centre, we need to do more and we need to perhaps look at reducing the charges.

"Online shopping is killing city centre shopping as well as out of town shopping where you have undercover shopping and free parking."

At Westminster calls have been made for all town centres to be made free for people to park in.

However, environmental campaigners say more needs to be done to encourage people to ditch their car in favour of public transport or cycling.

Commentator Emma Woolf said: "Am I the only one to notice the Paris climate conference?

"Are we seriously saying that we want to turn town centres - which already completely clogged with traffic and air pollution - into mass car parks?

"That we want more cars not fewer? 

"What we need is better public transport and more bike lanes."

Councillor Rodgers added: "I want to see thousands more coming into Belfast.

"It's all about choice, if people want to use their cars who am I to tell them not to? 

"I am not saying Belfast should introduce free parking full stop, but it is something we need to look at."

He continued: "I would like to see more cycle lanes and the bus lanes haven't really worked in the city.

"We need to look after our retailers, many are suffering.

"I want to see a more healthy and greener city, but we have to consider motorists.

"They feel they are being discriminated against and I share some of their views."

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