No expansion for street parking fee
On-street parking charges will not be rolled out across Northern Ireland, the Regional Development Minister has confirmed.
The concession will be paid for by reduced spending, including squeezing the subsidy available to transport provider Translink and a reduction in Roads Service expenditure.
Fines for motorists parked illegally could increase under separate proposals, the department confirmed.
And minister Danny Kennedy said he is not permanently ruling out parking charges.
"Given the tough economic climate that town centre businesses are operating in, I do not believe it is the right time to be implementing such a widespread proposal," he said.
He conceded there was united opposition to the introduction of on-street parking fees in around 30 towns, including from traders.
"I recognise that on-street charging can provide vital traffic management improvements in certain circumstances and this decision does not close the door on schemes where all stakeholders can agree that this is right for an individual city or town, as was the case in Lisburn and Newry in 2008," he added.
The proposal to roll out on-street charging was included in the Department of Regional Development's budget for 2011-15 and the minister has to find approximately £8.8 million from other areas over the budget period to make up the projected revenue lost from on-street parking.
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association welcomed the decision.
Chief executive Glyn Roberts said: "We are absolutely delighted with minister Kennedy's decision to drop these charges. This is a good result for our town centres and independent retail sector which have campaigned hard to get these proposed charges dropped in the 30 towns."