Council to review parking charges following concerns

Guildhall Square, Derry.
Guildhall Square, Derry.

The Council is to review its parking charge policy across all car parks following concerns expressed by local people around the reintroduction of Sunday charges in Derry and not in Strabane.

The review of the council’s car parking facilities across the city and district will be too late however to affect this year’s policy of Sunday charges in Derry only in the run up to Christmas.

The signs in Derry city centre regarding weekend parking.

The signs in Derry city centre regarding weekend parking.

The Council confirmed to the Journal earlier this week that regular car parking charges for Sundays would return for November and December, but said this would only apply for Derry and not Strabane or other facilities run by the local authority.

The council took over responsibility for car parks and charging across the two former council areas earlier this year, as part of the Review of Administration.

The matter was raised at the monthly meeting of the Council’s Business and Culture Committee on Tuesday evening.

Committee chairman SDLP Councillor Gerry Diver said a number of people have expressed concern or have been perplexed by the “anomaly” with regards the Sunday parking in Derry and Strabane.

Colr. Diver said he was aware that councillors have been working on this issue, with an eye to ensuring all citizens are able to avail of services on an equal basis.

“This is one of the issues that has come to us through the Review of Public Administration,” he said, adding that the council was in “the almost impossible situation where by we have taken up the responsibility but we don’t have adequate resources”.

He pointed to a recent report which showed the council intake from car parking fees and fines for the first six months of the financial year was drastically less than what was estimated.

Council’s Strategic Director Stephen Gillespie said that the charging structure being used was the same one inherited from the Department for Regional Development, but he added that the council was free to change this or set its own tariffs.

“What we intend to do,” he said, “is bring forward a paper next month looking at all the various car parks we have, income figures and options. If members want to change the tariffs, we can.”

He said that the result of this would include a widespread media campaign to make people aware of what the council are doing.

He added that the option to change the Sunday charging policy would be included in this, but that it would have to be next year before this would take effect.

SDLP Councillor John Boyle questioned whether this was because of the necessary 12-week consultation process, and was told that this was so.

Sinn Fein Councillor Brian McMahon said he did not want to see any adverse impact in Strabane.

He said: “I would hate to think people in Strabane, who have little enough in terms of good parking, would be asked to pay for parking,” he said.

Prior to the meeting, a council spokeswoman told the Journal earlier: “In keeping with the former DRD pricing structure, Sunday car parking in Derry’s city centre from November 1st will be charged at the regular tariff from 1pm to 6pm throughout the months of November and December only.

“Car parks in Strabane will continue to operate without charge on a Sunday and parking in most of the other rural towns across the district is also free.”