COLERAINE Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick has hit out at the hike in car parking penalties.
Drivers now face a fine of £90 for parking illegally.
Cllr. Fitzpatrick says that if the increases were really about improving parking etiquette, as suggested by the Minister for Regional Development, and not about revenue raising, then there are much better alternatives that could be considered.
He said: “I am very disappointed that these new higher fines have been introduced despite reservations from the Regional Development Committee over them.
“I had requested that in order for vehicle drivers to avoid penalties in car parks that these be manned or have the type of machine that enables a vehicle owner to pay for the amount of time used by him on return to the park but these requests have gone unanswered.
“Again, these increases are pushing people out of the town centres into the arms of the free car parking supermarkets.”
The Alliance man went on: “If the Minister was genuine about improving parking etiquette and about bringing about a see-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 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. “
“Those are the people whom we do not wish to see penalised 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.”