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Murphy – Residents parking schemes won’t be imposed without community support

16 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Transport Minister, Conor Murphy has welcomed recent engagement between local communities and his Department for the new residents parking scheme in five inner city areas of Belfast.

For many years local communities situated on the periphery of Belfast city centre have been plagued by all-day commuter parkers. The schemes are equally about preventing others parking in these streets as allowing the residents to park. Space on the public road cannot be reserved for anyone. However a Residents Parking Scheme is a solution to allow local residents to park close to their homes.

Conor Murphy welcomed the recent commencement of the scheme design and public consultation process in five city centre areas including Barrack Street, Donegall Pass, Sandy Row, The Markets (west of Cromac Street) and Brown's Square.

The Minister said:

"I welcome this opportunity for engagement and consultation with the communities under consideration."

"The policy was subject to full public consultation exercise at the end of 2006/ start of 2007. Local political representative's parties also received a copy of the consultation document. The final policy was presented to the assembly's Regional Development Committee last September and they welcomed the proposed reduction in tariff for Neighbourhood Renewal Areas."

Two main changes to the policy were made following the consultation. Firstly the standard permit charge of £80 was reduced to £40 for residents in schemes that are in a Neighbourhood Renewal Area, and secondly, the time limit for the visitor's permit was increased from 4 hours to 8 hours.

The Minister added:

"I do believe this will finally alleviate the ongoing problems, but unless local people support this scheme then it certainly won't be imposed on communities.

"The focus of the current pilot in the five areas of Belfast is to develop the best model which deals with the problem and engagement with residents will continue.

"There are costs associated with the introduction of residents' parking schemes. These include the cost of development, design, implementation and enforcement. The scheme will only break even after 16 years and this was before I introduced a reduced rate of £40 per year in neighbourhood renewal areas - in these areas it will take 32 years to break-even.

"My hope would be that Residents Parking schemes would provide these local communities with the solution they require and allow these areas to be essentially returned to the residents." ENDS

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