The decision to introduce car parking charges has been overturned in a ‘heated’ late night full council meeting with a vote of 18 to 14 with 1 abstention.
A group of 6 Ulster Unionists earlier this month used the ‘call in’ procedure to halt the decision. The Call-in provides a mechanism for councillors to intervene when they feel that a decision being made by the elected members needs to be revisited (or possibly changed).
The Ulster Unionist Councillors responsible for the legal challenge on the costal car parking charges are delighted with full council result. A group of 6 Ulster Unionist Councillors called in a Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council decision to implement car parking charges in some of the top tourist destinations across the Borough.
A group spokesperson said “We are delighted that a number of councillors from across the political spectrum have deviated from their original decision to back us in our bid to quash seasonal charges at a number of car parks across our costal towns and villages. We appreciate the pressures Council face in relation to costs associated with the upkeep of car parks which we adopted from central government in the last number of years.
We also appreciate that a number of issues relating to car parking in Coleraine, Ballymoney, Limavady etc have come to the surface during this debate. We have made it clear from the outset that we are well aware of the costs involved with adopting scores of car parks from central government, but feel that the recent recommendation to implement a blanket charge across our tourist hotspots was a knee-jerk reaction with little thought given to the impact on local residents and our tourist industry. Going forward we intend to work alongside council staff and other political parties to develop a fair and common sense approach to car parking, including maintenance costs and which car parks should generate an income.”
Alderman Campbell, Finlay, Robinson; Councillors Callan, Clarke, Douglas, Duddy, Harding, Holmes, Knight-McQuillan, McCorkell, McLean, Stevenson, Watton
Alderman Cole, Hillis, King, S McKillop; Councillors Baird, Blair, Chivers, Fielding, Hunter, McCandless, McGlinchey, McLaughlin, MA McKillop, P McShane, K Mulholland, A Mulholland, Quigley, Wilson
In a statement to Causeway Causeway Coast Community this morning Independent Councillor Padraig McShane has welcomed the decision to overturn the implication of seasonal car parking. The Councillor said ‘The car parking charges proposed were for some of the most iconic parts of our tourism trail in the Causeway Coast & Glens.
The proposal ran against our aspirations as a tourism destination. Charging in Ballintoy Harbour, Portrush or Ballycastle sea front was sending the wrong signals to those we should be welcoming to our Borough. In addition, not enough consideration has been given to local residents who are obliged to use these car parks due to on street parking laws.’
Councillor McShane has consistently voted against what he describes as “unfair proposals that were not considered holistically”.
This story generated huge interest within the Borough and resulted in hundreds of comments on our social media pages ( Causeway Coast Community ) over the last number of weeks.
Totalling up our reach on Facebook alone saw a figure of over 180,000 across multiple posts and an average of 15,000 unique visitors to the website on parking articles alone.
Last month 21 elected members voted for the charges, 11 voted against and 1 member abstained. Following this decision a group of 6 Ulster Unionist Councillors halted the decision by using the “call in” procedure. This can be used if members of the council feel that a decision has been made which will have an adverse impact on the Borough and its residents.
The 6 councillors responsible for blocking the seasonal car parking decision were :
Ald Norman Hillis
Cllr Darryl Wilson
Cllr Joan Baird
Ald William King
Cllr Sandra Hunter
Ald Tom McKeown
The above councillors felt that the potential impact on tourism and on local residents has not been explored in enough detail before taking such an important decision. At the time a UUP spokesperson said that there was no doubt that tourism would suffer, local residents would suffer due to displacement, and those who work in Portrush and indeed use the Portrush medical centre would be adversely affected.
The DUP’s John Finlay defended the decision to implement parking charges last month.