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Free Saturday parking scheme revs up support for town centre retail businesses this festive season

Parking fees will be waived in Council-owned off-street pay-and-display car parks in Armagh City, Banbridge, Lurgan and Portadown on Saturday 5, 12 and 19 December in the run-up to Christmas. 

With retail businesses across the borough in need of a major boost to drive up sales this festive season, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is investing around £20,000 to deliver its popular free Saturday parking scheme in a bid to encourage more shoppers back to the borough’s high streets.

Placing greater emphasis on the need to shop local this year, Lord Mayor Councillor Kevin Savage said:

“This initiative is an added incentive that will hopefully enable the local retail sector to capitalise on Christmas sales during the final weeks of what is commonly known amongst traders as the golden quarter. 

The pandemic and resulting economic downturn has been a hammer blow to high streets right across Northern Ireland, with many businesses reporting huge losses.

With so many retail businesses and small independents – the backbone of the local economy – struggling to survive, it’s vital that people get behind them this Christmas and help aid their recovery following what has been a disastrous trading year.

Our retail businesses have worked hard to make shopping safe for their customers. Now, more than ever, they need your continued custom and loyalty. There’s a lot at stake. Not only will you be helping boost their sales at a time when they need it most, but you will also be saving jobs for the future.” 

Some 1,569 parking spaces will be free to use in 15 council-owned and operated off-street pay-and-display car parks in the borough’s main urban centres. They include Dobbin Street Lane, Friary Road East, Linenhall Street and Lonsdale Road in Armagh City, Bridge Street East, Commercial Road, Downshire Place and Townsend Street in Banbridge, Castle Lane and Waring Street 3 in Lurgan and Magowan Buildings, Marley Street, Meadow Lane West, West Street and William Street in Portadown.

The Council also manages an additional 34 non-paying car parks across the borough, bringing the total number of free parking spaces in all towns and villages including Dromore, Rathfriland, Gilford, Keady, Markethill and Tandragee to 3,472.

In addition to placing covers on parking meters in all relevant car parks, the Council will erect signage at entrances to remind shoppers that they can avail of free parking on the chosen dates.

Motorists are reminded that traffic attendants will still be operating in car parks on the free parking days and will enforce all other aspects of car parking, for example out of bay parking, to ensure that car parks will still operate in a safe manner for all users.

This free Saturday parking scheme will complement other Council-led initiatives designed to support local businesses during these challenging times. With the pandemic encouraging a greater number of people to switch to online shopping, the Council has just launched ‘Our Borough Online’ – a new platform that profiles local businesses with an online presence and outlines the services they offer such as click and collect, Christmas club, personal shopping, quiet hours and delivery service. 

This new platform will be a valuable resource for people who want to support local businesses but are unable to get to the shops because they are shielding, have caring responsibilities or working long hours.

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