And councillors at Lisburn City and Castlereagh District Council may end up having to ‘write off’ much of the debts, officials have warned. The Council’s corporate committee has agreed to write off £945 of parking charge notices (PCN) for this financial year, following a recommendation from the Department for Infrastructure. Councillors were told DfI “can’t cope” with processing the debts. Councils took control of car parks in 2015 and with it the debts owed on unpaid fines. The NI Direct website states: “Local councils are responsible for operating the majority of charged car parks and are also responsible for setting the tariffs, lighting and their upkeep.” Regarding the debts, Lisburn South Alderman, Paul Porter (DUP) raised his concerns. He said: “Is it the same people all the time responsible for not paying their parking fines? “It is getting to be more and more every year. “Do some of them now realise that they don’t have to pay? “Can we make sure that this is not the case?” Lisburn South councillor, Andrew Ewing (DUP) further questioned if the cost of living crisis was having an impact on whether people were able to afford their fines. However, the chamber was informed that the council did not hold any individual’s details concerning the unpaid fines. A council official said: “DfI says it can’t can’t cope. Councils were given all of the debt prior to April 2015 relating to the car parks and a bad debt provision.“The council must approve the write off of the car park debts, including those which have arisen before April 2015, to enable DfI to remove the actual write off in the PCN IT system.
“There remains a number of outstanding debts in relation to the car parking charges. DfI are actively pursuing these debts and have recommended we do not write off these additional amounts at present. “The council has made a provision within the balance sheet should any of these additional debts have to be written off. The current balance held for bad debts in relation to car parking is £76k just for the LCCC area alone. This will be reviewed again at the year-end based on the information provided to the finance unit.”