South Down SDLP MLA Colin McGrath has spoken out following last week’s Council meeting in which Council agreed to bring forward the review of Car Parking Charges.
The local Assembly Member said: “I wish to thank my party colleague Cllr Gareth Sharvin and the other members who agreed with Gareth in that the significant increase in car parking charges across Downpatrick and Ballynahinch in particular, isn’t working. I appreciate that the Council needs to maintain these parks and derive some form of an income but at present this decision is counterproductive as many of the car parks in Downpatrick are empty as a result. Hence this providing less income to the Council and a bigger burden on the rate payer!
“The Downpatrick SDLP Office is in Scotch Street and day and daily I see the impact that this decision of Council is having. Local businesses have noticed a drop in passing trade as a direct result. Nearby residents have also approached me as they now cannot get parked outside their homes as those working nearby have ceased using the pay and display park and are now parking in the residential areas.
“I was therefore somewhat confused to learn that Sinn Fein and the Alliance party went against the SDLP’s proposal. It’s vital that this decision is reviewed sooner rather than later. For anyone in the town it is evident that this decision isn’t working. Why wait until October? For a small business , the loss of trade for a few months could well be the difference between surviving or pulling the shutter down for good. We need to be supporting local traders and doing our utmost to ensure the economic viability of our towns.“
Speaking during the discussion on Tuesday night past Cllr Devlin said:” It is vital that the views of local traders and residents are considered as a part of this review, as this decision has had a rippling impact on many. “