Councillor encourages parking ticket appeals
A Coleraine Councillor has criticised a walk-out by council colleagues ahead of a discussion about a spate of parking fines in Coleraine.
DUP representative Trevor Clarke said:
“Last week I and party colleagues were approached by constituents who had received fines in respect of unpaid parking at Council car parks at the Mall and Abbey Street in Coleraine on the first Sunday in December.
I think many had genuinely thought parking was free. When I looked into it, I found Council signage informing the public of the charging arrangements was contradictory and unclear. When I visited the Mall car park on the afternoon of 10th December to see for myself, there were at least seven parking tickets on windscreens waiting for unsuspecting shoppers when their returned to their vehicles despite some corrections being made to the signage. This isn’t a good end to a day’s shopping in our town centre.
I gave timely and proper notice to Council that I wanted to raise this issue at Council’s Leisure and Development committee yesterday evenings as a matter of importance to the economic prosperity of the town.
I was prevented from doing so by the childish preplanned and co-ordinated walk-out of the SDLP, SF and most Ulster Unionist councillors, leaving the meeting inquorate and thereby unable to proceed to deal with my questions.
This was clearly a party-political stunt which says more about those who blocked the debate than it does anyone else. When I came into political life I thought elected representatives were supposed to work for the betterment of our ailing town centres and our ratepayers. In this case the debate saboteurs have let down those they purport to represent.
MLA Maurice Bradley added: “I spoke to the Chief Executive on the matter last week and I thought common sense would prevail, particularly since all other major towns in the province had reduced or negated charges on the Sunday’s during December. However what would have been a simple solution instead sends out a clear message to shoppers coming to Coleraine, be prepared to pay or be fined.
“This is the Christmas Message bring sent out by those elected to represent the ratepayers of the Borough.
“As Leisure and Development is the first opportunity to raise the question of car park signage, lack of clear guidance and instruction, and unexpected fines, I am disappointed that an organised walk out of Sinn Fein, SDLP and some UUP Councillors, including the Borough’s First Citizen, led to the adjournment of the meeting without car parking issues being discussed.
“The relevant committee does not meet until January, too late for Christmas shoppers.
“No doubt the committee members who walked out will be able to explain to those church goers and shoppers in Coleraine why they don’t care about inadequate signage or parking fines”, said Bradley.
Councillor Clarke continued: “The matter cannot be discussed in Council until January, after which time it is likely more motorists may have fallen foul of the Sunday parking rules.
“Given the contradictory nature of the signage on 3rd December, I would suggest anyone who received a parking ticket for failing to ‘pay and display’ in those car parks on that date should appeal their fine using the following link.”