THE THOUSANDS of signatures collected in the last week sends a clear message to the government that Cookstown people will not stand for the introduction of on-street car parking charges.
That’s what local businessman TP Sheehy said after mounting up over 30 petitions sheets opposing the parking proposal.
The proprietor of Sheehy’s in Cookstown said that people are worried about the effect it will have on the town and they want to do something about it.
“The response has been absolutely amazing,” Mr Sheehy told the MID. “There is no-one who has said they agree with the parking charges being brought in.
“Everyone is wanting to have their say because it will effect everyone, so we have built up a lot of signatures.
“Employees who work in Cookstown will have to pay approximately £15 per week just to park their cars.
“It would be easier for them if they got designated parking areas where it would be free for them to park during the day.
“The Department of Regional Development is telling us that it will increase parking turnover, but the main street already has a good turnover as the NCP (National Car Parks) staff keep a good eye on them.”
Mr Sheehy added that shoppers will be put off using the town and will go to bigger stores where the car park is free.
“If people come into the town for a quick message, to buy a newspaper or collect a prescription, they wont want to pay to park there for a few minutes. It’s the inconvenience of it all that they will be put off by. It will be the death of Cookstown and it’s the last straw for businesses here.
“It’s just another money making exercise by the government.
“If any businesses don’t have a petition sheet then I would urge them to get a few from Sheehy’s or from the Chamber of Commerce. All retailers should also be asking their local politicians what they’re doing about it.”
Also adding their voice to the campaign were staff at The White Pheasant restaurant on the Burn Road,
Laberne Chambers (Manager) and Eleanor Mortown are worried that customers will be put off by the charges and use shopping stores such as Tesco or ASDA, where it is free to park.
Ms Chambers said: “I think it’s an absolute disgrace that we could be paying to park on the street. I believe it will be the ruination of Cookstown, people will not come near the town and will boycott it.
“It will be a hassle for elderly people too having to walk to a parking meter and making sure they are back in time before they are fined.
Mid Ulster politicians have also been voicing their concerns over the parking charges, including Ulster Unionist Sandra Overend.
“Both Magherafelt and Cookstown within this constituency are heavily reliant on town centre trade,” she said. “The impact of charging people for parking within these towns must not be understated. This could prove to be devastating for those businesses locally which barely survived the recession.
“In this rural constituency people are heavily dependent on using their car as a means to go about their daily business.”
, and at a time of ever increasing fuel costs, and given the scarcity of public transport in this area, I believe this proposal will come as another kick to local constituents at a time when many can ill afford it.”