PARKING tickets issued in Armagh rocketed by over 100 during March, it has emerged, amid claims by the City Council of an ‘over-zealous’ approach to enforcement.
Armagh I can reveal that 320 tickets were issued in March. This had climbed from 281 in February, a figure which itself had shown a sharp climb from the 209 doled out in January.
The growing number of penalties being dishes out were going to hit already hard-pressed businesses in the city centre in the pocket.
Councillors back then pointed to examples where a blue badge holder was issued a ticket when the badge was not on display, another was given a ticket for parking in an ‘electric vehicle’ charge point, when nobody had been using the space, and others penalised for tyres positioned on the white lines marking out car park spaces.
Local representatives, who had been inundated with complaints, claimed an attitude of over-zealous parking enforcement was firmly in operation and demanded that it end.
A letter of complaint was speedily dispatched to the office of Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy and a reply has now been received.
In revealing the figures for those first three months of the years, the Departmental reply defends the actions, saying: “Parking tickets were only issued to vehicles detected as being parked illegally.”
With reference to the examples provided by the council, it was explained that when a traffic attendant detected a vehicle in a Roads Service pay and display park which was not showing a valid ticket, a period of five minutes was allowed before a penalty was issued. This was to “allow the driver sufficient time to purchase a ticket and return to the vehicle”.
In relation to blue badges, DRD insists that traffic attendants had the power to inspect them to ensure they were not being misused.
It says Roads Service works closely with the Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee (IMTAC) in relation to its enforcement procedures and practices in relation to badge holders.
And it states that IMTAC fully supported all efforts to tackle misuse of as this undermined the objectives of the blue badge system.
The letter says that it was “regrettable” that some perceived the actions of traffic attendants to be overzealous, but the Department believed that effective enforcement in town and city centres contributed to reduced congestion, increased road safety and improved turnover of parking spaces, which was ultimately in the best interest of traders, shoppers and visitors.
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