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'Another nail in the retail coffin': Council responds to latest parking charge proposals

Saturday, 25 October 2014 17:53

Douglas Borough Council has expressed its ‘total opposition’ to the Department of Infrastructure’s latest parking charge proposals.


The Department’s plans include the introduction of pay and display parking on the Loch Promenade walkway, reducing free disc parking on the carriageway from two hours to one, and charging for issuing residents’ parking permits in disc zones but exempting holders from disc parking restrictions where they live.


DavidChristian MediumFollowing a meeting of the Council’s Executive Committee held on Friday October 24th Committee Chairman and Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP (pictured) said: ‘The Committee is totally opposed to reducing the two-hour disc zone to one hour. Also, although we concede there could be a case for pay and display parking on the walkway, the first two hours should be free.’


Councillor Christian said the Committee’s sentiments were ‘entirely consistent’ with recommendations it submitted to the Department in July this year after consideration of the consultation document ‘Proposed Changes to Public Transport and Parking Provision’.


‘At a time of difficult trading conditions, to impose these ill-considered measures will only serve as yet another nail in the retail coffin,’ he said.


‘The Council has long recognised that on-street parking charges in the town centre were likely to be introduced. It had always hoped, however, that the government’s plans would be sensitive to the economic climate and the challenges, compounded currently by the regeneration works, retailers are facing. Also shoppers are finding it hard enough as it is, negotiating the town centre while these works continue, without being deterred from visiting the town by these new parking restrictions.


‘The whole tone of the proposals is unfair, not least in the matter of residents paying for parking permits. Again, the Council is totally opposed to this. How can it be fair for a resident in a disc zone having to pay for a permit when someone in the next street, for example, has to pay nothing? And even when the hard-hit resident has paid for a permit, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to park within the zone, let alone outside their own property.


‘I and my fellow Members sympathise with Minister Gawne having to make unpopular and difficult decisions to help balance the government’s books. I would even congratulate the government for achieving its 30th consecutive year of economic growth. My and this Council’s first responsibility, however, is to the people – residents, retailers, businesses and visitors – of Douglas.


‘As the Island’s largest local authority Douglas is only too aware of the need to make savings. In this we are, indeed, making progress and turning our budgets around but not, I would maintain, at the expense of abandoning common sense and fairness.


‘Exceptional times demand exceptional measures. In this instance, however, the Department’s interpretation of “exceptional” is not one this Council shares.’