Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: What Northern Ireland road is slapped with more parking tickets in year than four towns put together?

 

By Claire McNeilly

Almost 4,000 parking tickets were handed out in a year on one of Belfast's busiest streets alone - more than in four of Northern Ireland's biggest towns put together.

The Lisburn Road can again lay claim to being our most ticketed street - with 10 penalty charge notices (PCNs) dished out every single day.

Last year nearly 35,000 parking fines were handed out in Belfast, while there were almost 85,000 PCNs across Northern Ireland as a whole.

Surprisingly, however, there were no penalties at all for drivers in Toome, Ballykelly, Millisle, Newtownstewart, Richhill, Tandgragee, Whitehead and Dromore in Co Tyrone.

Figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph from the Department for Infrastructure (DFI) show that in 2016 there were 3,923 PCNs issued on the Lisburn Road, where traffic attendants are most prolific.

Indeed, more parking tickets were handed out on the south Belfast street than the whole of Antrim (776), Coleraine (1,402), Strabane (1,001) and Dungannon (728) put together.

The revelations have prompted criticism that people are being driven away from Belfast's most fashionable shopping destinations by over-zealous traffic wardens.

Retail NI boss Glyn Roberts said questions needed to be answered by both the department and TransportNI over the "massive disparity" in the number of parking fines handed out from one location to another.

"It's shocking that the Lisburn Road is still Northern Ireland's most ticketed street," he said.

"We're mainly talking about independent retailers and family-run businesses that are already facing a swathe of other challenges without this parking fine fiasco. It has to stop.

"And why are drivers in so many towns not getting PCNs? Parking enforcement must be fair and proportionate, and not used as another form of taxation, which is currently what many traders believe is the case."

A DFI spokesman said the objective was to discourage illegal parking by issuing a penalty to those who did so.

"The department would of course prefer that those parking in our towns and cities park legally, as to do otherwise has knock-on impacts for many more people trying to get around both by car and on public transport," the spokesman added.

"Traffic attendants are deployed to those places where they will have the most impact on road safety and traffic progression. Enforcement of parking restrictions aims to reduce the number of illegally-parked vehicles, which in turn reduces traffic congestion, improves road safety, frees up space and improves accessibility for all road users."

A total of 34,690 on-street PCNs were issued in Belfast city centre last year, according to the most recent report by DFI.

The five most ticketed streets were: Lisburn Road (3,923), Chichester Street (1,810), Stranmillis Road (1,104), Ormeau Road (712) and Wellington Place (701). Also making the top 10 for parking fines were: Adelaide Street (687), Antrim Road (677), Shore Road (511), Linenhall Street (510) and High Street (476).

The Department for Regional Development's TransportNI wing takes responsibility for the enforcement of most parking restrictions. On-the-ground enforcement is provided by TransportNI's contractor, currently NSL Services Group, which employs the wardens.

Each parking ticket costs car owners £90 - or £45 if it is paid within 14 days.

That means the Lisburn Road alone is potentially worth up to £353,070 in revenue.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were eight locations which saw no fines issued for on-street parking transgressions.

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