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Traders hopeful of U-turn on parking fees

The new Regional Development Minister has been left in "no doubt" about the depth of opposition to on-street parking charges, traders have said.

Danny Kennedy met members of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, (NIIRTA) at Stormont this week to discuss the contentious revenue-raising scheme. And, business leaders say, they are "confident" the minister will come to the "right decision" when he makes the announcement next month.

The Belfast Telegraph has launched our 'Park the Charges' campaign backing small traders' opposition to DRD plans to raise £37m by making motorists in 30 towns pay for parking for the first time.

The minister, who has been presented with petitions of 16,000 signatures from traders in Cookstown and Comber, said: "I have confirmed I am urgently reviewing the policy of introducing new on-street car parking charges.

"I have met with a number of local representatives and traders in Comber, Cookstown and Newtownards to listen to their concerns. I also plan to meet with other traders and local representatives across Northern Ireland."

After the meeting, NIIRTA's chief executive Glyn Roberts said: "This was a productive meeting and we welcome his willingness to review the proposals for additional on-street car parking.

"The mood music has changed significantly and we are fairly confident the minister will drop these charges. He has been left in no doubt about the depth of opposition."

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