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Council to discuss free parking across borough to boost Christmas trade

A proposal has gone forward to offer free Saturday car parking in all local car parks in the borough in the run-up to Christmas.

It is hoped that the move would lead to an increase in trade in the borough’s main urban centres – Armagh, Banbridge, Lurgan and Portadown.

The proposal will go to a meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s economic development and regeneration committee tomorrow (Tuesday) evening.

It comes a day after Stormont voted against a plan to introduce a free half hour parking proposal across Northern Ireland, and binned a DUP motion seeking a sizeable reduction in the current £90 flat rate parking fine.

There are 18 paid car parks across the ABC borough.

And all but one of these – which is managed by an external commercial operator – are under council control.

A recommendation will go to council committee on Tuesday to waive all fees for motorists using these parks on three consecutive Saturdays in December – the 3rd, 10th and 17th.

It is a move which would cost council in the region of £15,000.

But councillors have been told that it provides retailers with a “significant opportunity to increase annual turnover within a finite period of time”.

Council will also be asked to again lend their support to the UK-wide Small Business Saturday campaign, which has been endorsed by Government and provides small businesses with an opportunity to “showcase their offering to local citizens with the aspiration of encouraging local shopping”.

The committee will also be asked to make a decision on whether or not to spend £7,000 on a cross-border radio advertising campaign to support both the park and Small Business Saturday initiatives, in a bid to bring people into the town centres over the Christmas period.

All have been recommended for approval and are due to be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting in Craigavon.

But, as is always the case, decisions and recommendations flowing from committee will be subject to full council approval at the end of the month.

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