Call for parking fees to be binned

Members of the Abbeyville Residents Association conducted a protest against parking charges at the Abbey Centre.
Members of the Abbeyville Residents Association conducted a protest against parking charges at the Abbey Centre.

Members of a local residents’ association have staged a protest at the Abbey Centre calling for parking charges at the site to be abolished.

The Abbeyville Residents Association conducted the protest on Friday, March 16 after being alerted to the impact the charges are set to have on employees at the centre.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras were introduced at the shopping centre last month, with charges being implemented for customers wishing to use ‘long stay’ services and park for a period of over four hours.

The protest followed an announcement by NewRiver REIT, owners of Abbey Centre, who apologised after a number of Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued to people who had parked at the facility for under four hours.

A spokesperson for Abbeyville Residents Association said: “This sort of action in introducing a pay for parking policy affects us all.

“We are fully aware of the statement made by the Abbey Centre regarding people getting refunded. The pay for parking still remains. We want it totally abolished. We want to highlight the concerns of staff and customers.”

SDLP representatives, Cllr Noreen McClelland and North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon met with Abbey Centre management and New River Ltd about the new parking scheme at the centre.

Following the meeting, Ms Mallon said: “We recognise the difficulties the scheme poses to staff members should the long-stay car park reach capacity on occasion. We will continue to work alongside staff and Translink to ensure staff accessibility to their workplace is a priority.”

Macedon DUP representative, Cllr Thomas Hogg MBE discussed the parking system with Emma Mackenzie, Director of New River Retail. Cllr Hogg said: “I have raised the lack of designated long-stay parking for staff and asked that the current arrangements be reviewed.”