U-turn urged over Carrickfergus Castle car parking plan as petition gains 3,800 signatures
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Several thousand signatures have been gathered through petitions opposing the introduction of charges at one of the town centre’s last remaining free car parks.
An online petition started by ten councillors has gained 3,845 signatures. A further 350 letters were brought to Carrickfergus Civic Centre on Friday by East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA John Stewart who has described the proposed charges as “a stealth on ratepayers”. A 12-week public consultation into the introduction of charges at Castle car park closed on November 2.
Commenting online, Mr Stewart said: “To date, several thousand have objected to these proposals as part of the public consultation. I am really hopeful that given this huge level of outcry/opposition, common sense will now prevail and that Mid and East Antrim Council will reverse this short-sighted decision.”
In a statement, he added: “Several thousand people have objected to the proposal to turn the Castle Car Park in Carrickfergus into a pay and display car park. I personally handed in over 350 individual letters and signatures.
“In Larne, where the consultation period for two town centre car parks went largely under the radar in June, there are now two, mostly empty car parks, which are clearly not generating the income the council thought they would.
“The council have told me that they are reviewing what has happened in Larne and are engaging with the re-formed business forum. I hope they learn from their mistakes, U-turn and don’t repeat the mistake in Carrickfergus.”
The council said previously the planned introduction of charges at Castle car park was among the measures agreed during its rates-setting process for 2023/2024. Motorists are facing a fee starting from 60p for up to an hour’s parking at the locations. A monthly ticket will cost £81.90 with a quarterly season ticket priced at almost £200.
Charges were introduced in Circular Road East and Exchange Road car parks in Larne town centre and three in Ballymena in August.
A spokesperson for council said: “The comments from the consultation are currently being collated and assessed and a comprehensive report, along with a proposed way forward, will be presented to the next available Environment and Economy Committee for consideration.”