Clarke opposes rise in car parking penalties

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Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Alliance Newcastle Councillor Patrick Clarke has said that he is disappointed and remains opposed to plans to raise car parking penalties from £60 to £90. The DUP and UUP supported the rise which came into force on Wednesday 4th July. Clarke said that if the increases were really about improving parking etiquette, as suggested by the Minister for Regional Development Danny Kennedy, and not about revenue raising, then there are much better alternatives that could be considered. The Alliance Councillor cited examples of two-tier systems in England, whereby low-level offences receive a lower fine and persistent and high-level offenders receive a higher fine. Speaking to Newry Times, Clarke stated: “I am very disappointed that these new higher fines have been introduced despite serious reservations from the Assembly Regional Development Committee over them. If Minister Danny Kennedy was genuine about improving parking etiquette and about bringing about a sea-change in driving and parking habits, then he would have considered the introduction of a two-tier system and not a rise in the fines.” “Such a system would ensure that persistent offenders faced a harsher penalty then they currently do but it would also deal with those people who spend an extra few minutes in the dentist’s or doctor’s surgery because an appointment has overrun, or those who have to go into the bank, for example – and for whom the overzealous traffic warden is waiting in a car park or in a parking bay on the street.” He continued, “Those are the people whom we do not wish to see penalized any more than they are currently. We could also have extended the two tier system for persistent offenders, no matter the offence they commit. Those who had received three fines in a period for minor offences, for example, would receive a higher penalty.” “Such a major increase on parking fines will I believe make people very cautious when parking in towns where it is difficult to find a parking space due to traffic congestion or a one way driving system.”
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