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MEA carpark charges remain

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Carpark charges in Mid and East Antrim will not be scrapped during lockdown, the council’s Direct Services Committee has decided.

The committee agreed that charges at town centre carparks across the borough will be retained for “consistency” .

This was one option considered by councillors at a meeting last week.

A report presented to the meeting suggested that removing charges during lockown and reinstating them when restrictions are eased would result in confusion among motorists and could result in fixed penalties.

The discussion followed a decision by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to “largely suspend on-street enforcement and associated services”.

Councils were permitted to decide their own “preferred way forward” during the current lockdown.

Operations Director Philip Thompson told councillors that some Mid and East Antrim carparks get three visits by attendants daily,

“It is still useful to have a presence to make sure there are no issues occurring,” he said.

Mr Thompson indicated that the council received communication from the Minister at the end of January and that it why the issue was being raised.

Knockagh Alliance councillor Alderman Noel Williams stated: “Charges are as low as possible.”

Last January, carpark revenue in Mid and East Antrim amounted to almost £50,000 compared to £7,420 this year.

Committee members were told that the enforcement level by NSL parking enforcement officers has almost been halved to 110 hours per month compared to last January.

The cost for enforcement in January was almost £6,000. A further reduction could see a decrease in cost to the council by a further £3,000 per month.

Ald Williams described the decision as a “win-win situation”.

The committee agreed to “scale back enforcement”.

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