Larne councillors urged to 'unite in opposition' to new car park charges

A Larne businessman has appealed to local councillors to “mirror their colleagues in Carrickfergus” by uniting in opposition to new car parking charges.
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Tom McMullan is urging elected representatives to have the latest charges “immediately rescinded” after Mid and East Antrim Borough Council introduced charges at two of the last remaining free car parks in Larne town centre.

Mr McMullan said that the introduction of charges at Circular Road East and Exchange Road car parks last week has “dismayed very many members of the Larne business community and will have a significantly detrimental impact on many, both staff and customers, in the area”.

However, he pointed out that councillors in the Carrick area have come together in opposition to proposed new charges at Carrickfergus Castle car park.

Circular Road East car park in Larne. Picture: Local Democracy Reporting ServiceCircular Road East car park in Larne. Picture: Local Democracy Reporting Service
Circular Road East car park in Larne. Picture: Local Democracy Reporting Service

In a letter to Larne councillors, he stated: “MEA council now proposes to exacerbate a difficult business environment by encircling Larne town in paid car parks.

“The new charges will have a detrimental impact on businesses, customers, visitors to the town and for staff working day in and day out to keep business in the town centre viable.

“For example, for a shop worker using the Exchange Road car park, they are now faced with a potential daily charge of £2.50 resulting in an annual charge in excess of £600 per year or some £3,000 over the lifetime of the current council mandate.

“For what is typically a low-paid job, this is a morally scandalous decision by MEA. At a time when families are struggling day to day with a cost-of-living”, he commented.

“It is a deeply regressive tax eating into the disposable income of many low-paid workers and for that matter it will absolutely fail the test of being fair and reasonable. Totally unacceptable.”

He has called on Larne area representatives to take “similar strong action to oppose the imposition of such charges and where they have been introduced to see them promptly removed”.

“I believe that this matter should be reviewed in open council with a public record of those councillors opposing these charges and indeed those supporting them”, he added.

Carrickfergus and Knockagh’s 10 elected representatives have issued a joint statement in opposition to the proposed new charges at Carrickfergus Castle car park and launched an online petition.

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The statement says: “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.”

In a previous statement, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “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.”