Carrickfergus Castle car parking plan: Council says 'we have listened to residents and taken their feedback on board'
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A 12-week public consultation is now open ahead of the planned introduction of charges at one of the last remaining free car parks in Carrick town centre.
The council said: “We have listened to residents and taken on board their feedback to changes to car parks in Mid and East Antrim, notably with the introduction of an all-day ticket, at a significantly reduced rate, which we feel is fair, reasonable and competitive.
“The monies generated from the introduction of charges at Carrickfergus Castle car park would be reinvested back into Council where they can be used in the delivery of other essential front-line services in the town and throughout Mid and East Antrim, as well as mitigating the impact of any potential rates increases over the next couple of years.
“Council will continue to work closely with our town centre traders and business leaders to do all we can to support, promote and grow our economy and ensure the very best services, facilities and infrastructure is on offer for our citizen.”
The statement said that a recent review of car parking charges across Mid and East Antrim resulted in the introduction of a 60p an hour rate at paid-for council car parks in the borough, with members of the public invited to have their say on the move.
“As a result of that process, and following feedback from citizens, Council agreed to introduce a special all-day rate of £2.50 in Council pay and display car parks, to mitigate the impact on workers and business owners.”
The statement also noted “The planned introduction of charges at the Castle Car Park was among the measures agreed by Council during the rates-setting process for 2023 / 2024.
“These measures were designed to minimise the rates increase on residents amid the cost of living crisis, while also ensuring Council was in a position to safeguard and where necessary enhance front-line services and facilities for residents.”
It also indicates that there were a further three car parks identified for the introduction of parking charges in Ballymena and two in Larne.
Last week, East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA John Stewart described the planned introduction of parking charges at Castle Car Park as “a stealth tax on ratepayers”.
Mr Stewart has encouraged as many objections to the proposal as possible.
An online petition opposing the introduction of any car parking charges at Carrickfergus Castle Car Park has attracted 3,633 signatures so far after Carrickfergus and Knockagh’s 10 elected representatives united in opposition,
A joint statement says: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have announced their intention to introduce parking charges to Castle Car Park in Carrickfergus.
“All ten Carrickfergus councillors are absolutely against the introduction of any charges to this car park which is used by local people working and shopping in our town centre as well as those visiting the town.
“We feel that placing additional costs on working families especially during the current cost of living crisis is nothing short of scandalous as well as the potential damage to our front-line tourism product.
“We want to assure our constituents that we are united on this issue and will be fighting it at every available opportunity.”
The council says that free car parking would remain in Carrick town centre area at The Windrose, Marine Gardens, St Brides Street Park and Ride and the train station Park and Ride.