Car parking charges coming back to the district on 17 August says Newry Mourne and Down District Council.
Local businesses have raised the issue of car parking with Down News who are concerned at charges being levied when many businesses are still not running up to speed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And the issue of free parking in Newcastle pre-Covid was raised.
Free parking has been beneficial to many small businesses since the end of June, but a Council spokesperson said: “At a meeting of Newry Mourne and Down District Council’s Strategy Policy and Resources Committee meeting on 25 June 2020, Council members agreed to defer charging at Council off-street carparks until 10 August 2020, subject to a review of this decision in advance of that date.
“Following a review at a meeting of the Council’s Efficiencies Working Group on 3 August, members decided to re-introduce off-street car park charging on 17 August 2020 at Council controlled car parks.
“This will also include the resumption of car parking charges at Delamont Country Park and Tyrella Beach.
“Council members have recognised the positive benefits that free off-street parking has had on our local businesses.
“In reintroducing the charges they do so in the knowledge that further significant funding for local businesses has been recently awarded to the Council by the Department for Communities (DfI) and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in the form of the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme.
“Details of this programme and advice for local businesses who wish to avail of it will shortly be issued.”
However, a local Downpatrick business person explained that it was his understanding that Council offered free parking in Newcastle for visitors and shoppers but not so in Downpatrick despite all business being faced with similar costs and rates’ bills.
Council is expected to review car parking charges further going forward so any local discrepancies in charges may begin to level out and ultimately free parking could become a figment of the past.
But for the retail sector in Downpatrick, will this levelling-off review of off-street parking happen quick enough?