Parking charges at tourist hotspots ‘a mistake’

Cars parking at Portrush West Strand will soon be charged at 40p per hour
Cars parking at Portrush West Strand will soon be charged at 40p per hour

Seasonal car parking charges are to be introduced at tourist hotspots around the north coast.

The measure was agreed at Tuesday night’s meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

Parking charges to car parks will affect Ballintoy Harbour, Ballycastle Marina, part of Portballintrae Beach Road, Portrush Dunluce Avenue, Portrush Landsdowne, Portrush East Strand, Portrush West Strand and Portstewart Convention.

Ulster Unionist councillor Norman Hillis, who opposed the measure, said he was confident it would prove a mistake in the long term.

“This is an ill-thought-out plan which I have no doubt is going to exacerbate problems with parking,” he said.

“Charging for parking in car parks will encourage people to park in residential areas instead which will mean local residents won’t be able to park outside their homes.

“It will have an effect on people going to work who also use these car parks and who will be facing charges every day which mount up.

“I believe this is a measure designed to fleece tourists.”

Mr Hillis disputes a figure of £400,000 per year which has been floated as the amount the council will earn through the new charges.

“I don’t think they will get anywhere near that amount,” he said.

“For a start, we have to pay for the installation of machines in these car parks and then we have to pay people to police parked cars and enforce fines.”

The measure passed by 22 votes to 11, with one abstention.

The council confirmed the seasonal charges will be in place from Easter to September, Monday to Saturday, 8.30am to 6.30pm and on Sundays from 1pm to 6pm.

The tariffs in all car parks will be 40p per hour or £2 per day. A start date is still to be confirmed.