Traders in Strabane worried car parking charges may have led to a drop in shopper footfall

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Derry City and Strabane District elected representatives have requested a report on potential car parking fee changes for Strabane Town Centre.

Elected members are concerned that car parking charges may have led to a drop in shopper footfall in in the town centre.

At the monthly Full Derry City & Strabane District Council Meeting on Wednesday, Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Boggs proposed that the council mandates its officers to carry out a scoping exercise in relation to “suggested actions which could incentivise town centre shopping”.

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The proposal requested a report, to be presented at a future meeting, on the impact of free parking.

Strabane town centre.Strabane town centre.
Strabane town centre.

It was also proposed that the report look at the potential increased footfall through free car parking days, and possible parking tariff reductions in the Town Centre.

Councillor Boggs said that a number of business owners had contacted him in relation to parking and “the link their making to a decrease in footfall”.

“Businesses feel that the current parking arrangements, predominantly in relation to council-owned car parks, are pushing people out of the Town Centre,” Councillor Boggs said.

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“Obviously, as Strabane’s out of the city and has a lot of rural hinterland, there isn’t as much public transport, so they have no other option than to bring cars and used paid car parks.

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Boggs.Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Boggs.
Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Boggs.

“If businesses are coming to us with an issue we have to look at it, while also taking in the realistic impact it has on car park as a revenue-raising mechanism.”

Independent Councillor Jason Barr said he had also been approached by independent retailers about the issue.

Councillor Barr added: “It’s the local, independent retailers that are affected by this, and that’s the people we need to be supporting as local councillors.”

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DUP Alderman Keith Kerrigan meanwhile said Strabane Town Centre was “effectively moving further out and taking away from the centre of the town”.

Strabane Town centre.Strabane Town centre.
Strabane Town centre.

“And it’s those small independent retailers feeling the pinch,” Alderman Kerrigan concluded. “So if it’s handier for families come in to go to the shops, with free parking, hopefully we can get more done.”

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter