A Derry MLA has criticised a government department for its failure to deliver a Bogside residents’ parking scheme over the past decade.
The comments made by SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan come after the latest public consultation attracted over 200 objections which he now believes will scupper plans for similar schemes in areas such as Rosemount and Bishop Street.
Mr Durkan said the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has been “extremely ham-fisted” in its handling of the consultation process.
The parking scheme issue stretches back around ten years, with various public consultations having taken place in that time. At one stage, it was expected to be introduced in 2012 but had to be pushed back until 2013.
In 2014 then Roads Minister Danny Kennedy gave assurances that, “in the absence of significant objections”, the scheme would be in place no later than Spring 2015.
However, this week, after a consultation ended last April and a further information session was held in November, a spokesperson for the Department explained that the proposed Rossville Street Residents’ parking scheme received a large number of objections from the residents.
Of the 226 responses received, there were 212 objections to the scheme.
The DfI told the Derry News that key areas of concern coming out of the consultation included the number of permits allocated for visitors, access for family carers and concerns over costs.
The Department has since confirmed that the resident and visitor permits would be free and that a special permit would be available for family carers, also free of charge.
The DfI spokesperson added: “The Department acknowledges that there is still a need to manage car parking in the Bogside and is now considering how to progress matters.
“Consideration is being given to advancing a smaller scheme within the Rossville area to include Abbey Park, Glenfada Park and Columbcille Court, possibly as a pilot. The Department would hope to commence consultation for a smaller scheme in September.
“The Department will write out to all residents living within the limits of the original Rossville scheme as soon it is confirmed how an alternative scheme will be progressed.
“The Department is not in a position to consider other schemes at this time.”
Mark H. Durkan is worried that delays to the Bogside parking scheme will now hamper the roll-out of similar schemes.
“The fact this is happening will now block progress on any residents’ parking scheme elsewhere in the city.
“Bogside residents want a parking scheme so it must be the design of it that people are objecting to. It’s staggering that a much-needed parking scheme in an area where residents struggle and have been crying out for a solution to the problem of getting parked outside their homes during the day has been scrapped.
“This scheme has been deliberated over for ten years and the department has brought proposals forward that have been met with such opposition. It begs the question, was enough done to liaise and interact with objectors, and could they respond in turn to these objections.
“Bogside was identified as a key area, as was Bishop Street and the next was the lower Rosemount/university area. But now it seems as if the department has pulled the plug on those schemes and there is no chance of progress.”
The SDLP representative had enquired about the possibility of a similar scheme in other areas which are badly impacted by students such as Rosemount, and Abercorn Place and Terrace which are both affected by city centre workers.
“These could have been done in parallel so that at least one scheme could be advanced. People in Rosemount are frustrated that they’ve been put on the back burner while this other scheme was being progressed, but they’ll be even more frustrated to see it isn’t being progressed.
“Rosemount and Bishop Street will now be way down the line, the handling of this by the Department of Infrastructure seems extremely ham-fisted,” Mr Durkan added.
The Rossville Street area Residents’ Parking Scheme would be the first such scheme for the City and involves over 600 residential properties mainly in the Rossville Street, Fahan Street, Little Diamond, Creggan Street and Chamberlain Street areas.
A DfI publication in March stated that, proposals for the Scheme were first announced by the previous Minister for Infrastucture, and following informal consultations “there has proven to be significant support from residents who are experiencing increasing difficulties parking outside their homes.”
The Department wrote to all residents within the area and encouraged all interested parties to formally respond to the proposals before 10 April.
If introduced as proposed, the scheme would have designated free of charge parking places for residents only between the hours of 10.00 am and noon and between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm from Monday to Saturday inclusive.
Visitors would have been able to park within areas designated for residents provided a valid visitor’s permit is displayed on the vehicle. A number of spaces shall also remain for non-residents.
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