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Barrier operational as new parking charges in effect at Carnfunnock Country Park

New parking charges have been introduced at a key attraction in Mid and East Antrim ahead of the peak visitor season.

A barrier is now operational at the entrance to Carnfunnock Country Park, the borough council has said.

Motorists have been advised that peak and off-peak charges will now apply.

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Currently, the charges are Monday to  Friday,  £1 (off peak) and Saturday and Sunday, £4 (peak).

The popular visitor attraction near Larne

A peak rate charge will apply seven days a week during holiday periods. Payment will be made either at the barrier or at a payment machine.

Visitors have not had to pay an off-peak charge previously.

The new charges were proposed last year behind closed doors by Carrickfergus DUP councillor Alderman Billy Ashe and seconded by party colleague, Councillor William McCaughey who is now mayor.

In January 2020, Mid and East Antrim council’s annual car park revenue was almost £50,000 which dropped to £7,470 after the first lockdown and Covid restrictions.

Last month, the local authority deferred a decision to introduce charges for town centre car parks which are free to use at present.

Larne Lough DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen proposed that any decision on these new car park charges be deferred for 18 months due to the “financial hardship being faced by many at this time”.

His proposal was seconded by Councillor Lauren Gray and was agreed after 12 councillors voted in favour with five against.

Deputy Mayor Ballymena TUV Councillor Matthew Armstrong said that he was against the decision. Previously, he has called for parking fees across the borough to be examined to “establish consistency”.

The TUV has described free parking as “a drain on the ratepayer”.

Alderman Ashe stated previously that his party does not believe the introduction of car park charges will “bring in the revenue that other councillors think it will. It is not for us”.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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