The retail body put their case to Department of Infrastructure officials
A major Northern Ireland business group has hit out at "over-zealous approach" of traffic attendants after 150,000 parking tickets were issued last year.
A delegation from the Retail NI met with the Department for Infrastructure’s Permanent Secretary Peter May and senior officials on Thursday morning to voice their concerns.
Glyn Roberts is Retail NI's Chief Executive and called the meeting "positive and productive".
“Getting car parking and its enforcement right is absolutely key to the future success of our town and city centres. Our members have expressed considerable concern with the over-zealous approach of the traffic attendants, with over 150,000 parking and bus lanes fines issued last year.”
He said the volume of parking ticket and bus lane fines sent a negative message to shoppers who use their cars.
"The only winners from this are the large out-of-town supermarkets, which have free car parking and no traffic attendants,” he said.
“At the meeting we also strongly opposed any moves toward increasing on street car charges and ending the first free hour policy in many of our town centres”
Mr Roberts said the delegation called for the eleven local councils to take on the responsibility for on street car parking and minor road maintenance.
"Councils will then have overall control of their car parks and can shape a strategy which works best for their respective town and city centres,” he said.
“Retail NI has always been a big supporter of public transport and strongly encourage shoppers to make public transport their first option, rather than their last.
“However shoppers need choice and we need to accommodate them, whether they use their car, walk, cycle or use public transport.
“We also strongly welcome the progress on the Transport Hubs in Belfast and Derry and look forward to the Rapid Transit system being introduced in September.”
The figures for the parking fines were revealed in February, with over 94,000 on-street Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued last year, with nearly half in Belfast marking an 11% increase from the previous year.
Over 37,000 tickets were for off-street parking, a 4% increase, with the highest number in Fermanagh and Omagh and the lowest in Antrim and Newtownabbey.
More than 20,000 fines were for moving traffic offences in the Greater Belfast area involving bus lanes and bus-only streets.
At the time the Department for Infrastructure said the penalties were designed to reduce traffic congestion, improve road safety and accessibility for all users as well as keeping bus lanes free of unauthorised users.