Belfast Telegraph

Retailers vow action on parking levy plans

Retailers have vowed to bombard Stormont ministers with letters and petitions in their fight against the introduction of car parking charges in 30 towns.

At a Chamber of Commerce meeting last night — the first of many planned — business owners and councillors made their feelings clear on the proposals and told how they are planning to fight them.

The controversial plans have been put forward by the Minister of Regional Development, Conor Murphy, in a bid to raise £37m in revenue.

As part of the proposals, motorists in Newtownards, Ballycastle, Ballymena, Omagh, Downpatrick and Dungannon, will pay for on-street parking for the first time. Last night, Ards Chamber of Commerce held an emergency meeting in which retailers said they had “had enough” of Government policies which hurt independent businesses and are going to fight to save their town centre. Chairman of the chamber and local shop owner William Gilliland said they would not allow Newtownards to become a “Tesco town”.

“We are not going to allow this thing to get any legs. Like all independent retailers we have had enough,” he said. “There’s a lot of things we have stood quiet and allowed to come in over the years, but we are not standing for it any more.”

The chamber has drawn up letters which it is encouraging retailers and customers to send into DRD and will also be lobbying leaders of all political parties in a bid to drum up support and prevent the plans from getting the go-ahead.

“We are hoping to flood DRD with letters so they don’t know what hit them,” Mr Gilliland said.

Belfast Telegraph

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