A decision by Causeway Coast and Glens Council to spend £190k transforming Coleraine’s historic Market Yard into a car park has been branded “farcical”.
Speaking after a heated meeting at Cloonavin on Tuesday night when the spend was rubber stamped, DUP councillors George Duddy and Trevor Clarke said that the decision on changes to car parking in Coleraine is ‘flawed’ due to the process and lack of strategy.
In a joint statement, they said: “We were looking for the decision on car parking provision to be deferred until we got a car parking strategy in place.
“This strategy was promised earlier this summer, and would have allowed us to make a more informed decision.
“Instead we are now set to spend £190,000 of ratepayers’ money when we don’t know the occupancy rates on existing car parks in the town, or the impact the changes would have on traffic flow at peak times.”
Last month Environmental Services Committee members looked at five options for a radical shake up of parking. At the in-committee meeting councillors agreed the report option that Terrace Row lease be terminated, Waterside converted to free parking and Market Yard used for parking and events should go to full council for decision. This was “the most financially beneficial option for council”.
Councillors Duddy and Clark added: “There will be serious congestion issues when Waterside car park becomes a free car park, cars will displaced from one side of the town to the other to an area that is already heavily congested at peak times in the day.”
“Drivers in Coleraine using car parks are being penalised by having to subsidise car parking in other car parks across the borough.
“This is surely an equality issue, which also puts traders in Coleraine at a disadvantage because of the cost in comparison to the other towns. Whilst there is a pressing need to make use of the iconic Market Yard site, there is more creative thinking needed around this. The last thing we need is another car park in Coleraine.”