Larne Business Forum today (Friday 2nd February 2024) warmly welcomed the recent decision by Mid and East Antrim Council that it has reversed its decision in relation to charges at the Exchange Road and Circular Road East car parks in Larne.
The local authority has confirmed these car parks will revert to free access as soon as practical.
At a well attended meeting with local councillors in October 2023 members of the Larne Business Forum were able to set out a wide range of damaging impacts flowing from the decision to introduce charges in these car parks. Those impacts included reduced footfall, reduced revenue, less casual shopping and dwell time and a dramatic reduction in leisurely shopping.
Significant inconvenience to residents of Exchange Road were also noted.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council published a statement on the website following a consultation and confirmed
• In Larne, car parks at Exchange Road and Circular Road East will return to free parking sites.
• Carrickfergus Castle Car Park will remain free for public use
• In Ballymena, Mount Street car parks 1 and 2, and Broughshane Street car park, will return to free parking sites.
The Council statement said:
"Following extensive consultation and engagement with residents and businesses, Council has taken the decision that Carrickfergus Castle Car Park will remain free for public use.
"Council thanks all those who took the time to engage with the consultation process and express their views on the proposed changes.
"As a Council, we have listened to the public’s feedback, as demonstrated by the decision taken at this week’s meeting of Elected Members.
"Council also agreed that Mount Street car parks one and two, as well as that at Broughshane Street in Ballymena, will return to free parking sites, with the arrangements put in place soon.
"In Larne, car parks at Exchange Road and Circular Road East will also be free to use in due course.
"Council will continue to work closely with our town centre traders and business leaders to do all we can to support, promote and grow our economy and ensure the very best services, facilities and infrastructure for our citizens and visitors."
Chairman of the Larne Business Forum Brian McRandal commented on the revised MEA policy in relation to the Exchange Road and Circular Road East saying:
“On behalf of the local business community I very much welcome the decision by local councillors to reintroduce free car parking at Exchange Road and Circular Road East car parks. This is both a correct and a courageous decision.
"It can be difficult to recognise that you got something wrong and so our local councillors are to be commended for reflecting on the negative impacts this decision was having on the town and making this change.
"This decision also shows the benefits of the local business community acting collectively and engaging positively with our various elected representatives on a cross party basis.”
Commenting on the timing of the changes Brian said: “As soon as possible!”