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Anger as car park changes result in job losses in city

A prominent Newry businessman has said the decision to install pay and display machines in three city centre car parks could force shoppers from the area. Next year three manned kiosks at car parks on Water Street and The Quay will be replaced by pay and display machines with the loss of nine full time jobs. Users will now have to pay for a predicted period instead of paying when exiting – and face a fine of up to £90 if they do not return to their vehicle in time. A spokesperson for the Roads Service – which is implementing the change – said the move is part of a cost saving exercise: “The car parks will operate in the same way as Roads Service’s existing pay and display car parks three of which currently operate in Newry. This means customers must pay in advance for their parking and display a valid pay and display ticket. The Parkmobile cashless payment system will be introduced to the car parks. Using this service, customers can pay for their parking through their mobile phones. This means drivers do not have to predict how long they need to park and pay up front – they can start and stop their parking when they need to and only pay for time used. Instructions how to use the system will be provided on the pay and display machines.” However one Hill Street trader said he believes it could have a negative impact on the city centre: “I fear for the future of the shops on Hill Street because the impulse shopping people do will be lost because people will now have to pre pay for car parking and will therefore have to pre plan how they intend to shop, for example the little old lady going to Mass may no longer able to go for an unexpected cup of tea with her friend or the mum who remembers she needs to go and pick up something for dinner. People will no longer have the flexibility to do these things as they won’t want to risk getting fined and will head straight back to the car park.” Commenting on the impending job losses the retailer said it was “immoral” to replace staff with machines adding: “It is immoral in this world we live in to replace honest hard working people with machines; it is entirely unnecessary and solely about boosting coffers.” When asked if the move would have a negative impact on Hill Street trading in terms of consumer numbers the Roads Service spokesperson said: “Roads Service does not expect there to be any impact on car park usage as the tariffs which are currently charged in the car parks as a result of the conversion from kiosk to pay and display.”


Newry Democrat

20th November 2012