Scrapping plan for on-street parking charges across NI leaves £8.8m hole

As the BBC reports, Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister, the UUP’s Danny Kennedy, has shelved his predecessor, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy’s, plans to extend on-street parking charges to 30 towns and cities across Northern Ireland.  Leaving a £8.8million hole in his budget.  From the BBC report

The minister now has an £8.8m hole in his budget because of the projected revenue lost from on-street parking.

He said this would have to be plugged by making cuts in other areas.

“Given the pressures in all areas of my budget, this is a very difficult task,” he added.

“However, I am determined to minimise, as far as possible, the impact on frontline services in my department.”

Mr Kennedy said he would offset the shortfall by £2m by creating greater efficiency within his department.

A further £2m would be saved by reducing the operation expenditures of the Roads Service.

He said £2.1m would come from off-street parking charges in provincial towns, and on-street charges in some cities, and £2.7m would be collected from a reduction in the subsidy paid to Translink.

Another example of ducking the difficult decisions?  Perhaps.

A cynic might say that the proposals were only there to appear to balance the budget in the first place.

And why was that “projected revenue” included in the department’s budget when there was to be a proposed consultation, and the-then Minister was telling retailers that the plan was “not set in stone”?

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  • Little James

    Is it possible a Minister in the executive will make a “difficult decision” as opposed to the endless giveaways?

  • OneNI

    Tuiton fees, parking fees – each relatively small sums but Executive is not raising rates or water charges so keeps making its hole bigger!

  • PaulT

    Pete, the links you provide with your questions actually answer the questions themselves

    Why was the “projected revenue” included in the budgets, from your link…

    “The Belfast Telegraph has obtained a copy of a letter from outgoing Regional Development (DRD) Minister Conor Murphy in which he states categorically that “on-street car parking charges will be further extended to all major towns” in Northern Ireland.”

    AND

    if you read a few words along from “not set in stone” the minister said “there was wriggle room for traders opposed to the plans”.

    wriggle room to most people means a little bit of space to re-arrange things.

    Simples

  • Drumlins Rock

    The on street parking charges were a crazy idea, and probably would not have raised the amount suggested, with installation and manament cost eating up much of the revenue for the first few years. Not to mention the harm it would have done to towncentres. A very wise decision, would have did enormous harm for very little gain.

  • So Translink are going to get even less money? I guess that’s yet another 12 months or more fixing the Dublin-Belfast train track speed restrictions has been kicked down the road.

  • “creating greater efficiency within his department.”

    Might this include secondments? Paul Priestly is currently on secondment but I’ve seen no explanation given as to what income he continues to receive from the DRD or other government department.

  • PaulT

    Bit harsh on Translink, I believe a recent report said they offered the best value for money of all the rail francises.

  • It’s absolutely typical, though. That £2.7million will go on the fares next year once the fare freeze ends – either that, or on more bus cuts next year.

  • iluvni

    Its time the money for that farcical motorway in the west was ‘un-ringfenced’ by the Executive.

  • Comrade Stalin

    AndyB,

    My thoughts were exactly the same, the plan here is to rob Translink in order to pay for the car driver once again. The roads budget is already something like ten times that of the public transport budget – couldn’t the money have been found somewhere there instead ?

    There are some places where we definitely need roadside parking charges. eg the Roads Service car park in Whiteabbey is full every day from first thing in the morning. The charges are needed in some cases to ensure fair access to parking spaces so that people can shop.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Stalin, some places can still charge if they want, it is the blanket attemp at wiping out our town centres that has been stopped.

    I think iluvni has hit the nail on the head.

  • aquifer

    The chance of a cut in corporation tax recedes as ministers fail to take any tough decisions.

    I would go down the road and start a business there if I could afford the bus fare.

    UK USA ROI all bust and borrowed out, united only in poor governance.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DR,

    I’m neutral on the question of whether the parking charges should have been removed or not. I don’t mind accepting the argument that they were a bad idea. What I object to is public transport funding being cut in order to meet the funding gap.

  • Comrade Stalin

    aquifier, well, you could say that the decision that has been taken here is a tough decision. The state of public transport has been cricitized here quite a bit – the Derry line closure, the Translink Metro bus route reductions, the poor state of the Belfast-Dublin service .. so to go and cut more from public transport does take some courage.

    Tough decision or not, it is short sighted; cutting back the public transport network won’t do anything to improve the sustainability of our local economy.

  • nemesis2

    They cannot even hold their water on this so what hope of anything difficult

  • Drumlins Rock

    Stalin, this money never existed in the first place, at best it would have started trickling in after a few years after the installation costs and paperwork were dealt with, I would hazard a guess that like most other things the income would have been less than forecast, and lots of hidden costs, officals time, lost rates revenue, wasted time getting change etc. would have reduced it all further.
    I don’t understand Murphy’s logic in bringing it forwards in the first place, but it was doomed from the start. In reality it was always fantasy money and in fact amounts to yet another cut in the departments budget, so blame Sammy Wilson if you want.
    As for revenue generation, how about making the new A5 a Toll road? generate a few quid, if it is really needed I sure the punters will gladly pay a quid.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DR, I don’t really disagree, like I said my objection is the cut to public transport rather than the much larger roads budget. In general terms, we are far too car-centric around here and there needs to be a realignment of the DRD budget.

    I’m totally up for toll roads, and if I was going to do that I’d slap it right across the M2 foreshore.

  • Neil

    we are far too car-centric around here

    Yeah, because public transport is awful. I live within the Belfast Metro area, and on a Sunday there’s a bus to town every odd hour, i.e. 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and so on. When I lived in Ballymena I could catch either a train or bus at around midday then either a train or bus at around five p.m., both bus and train leaving the station within a half hour of each other, why? Because Translink owns both, so can offer a pish service and people have no choice. They can allow their drivers a nice break on a Sunday afternoon because passengers have no alternative.

    I understand that cutting money will not make Translink a better company, but it was shit when they were getting the full slice of funding you refer to, so we can either pay to have a shit service, or not pay and have a slightly shitier service. I’m just not convinced that we get any value from our local transport monopoly for the money we put in.

    On the other issue, I can’t see people complaining much about a slight increase in the charge to park on street in some of our cities. Stick 20p on 15 minutes in Belfast, no additional costs as machines are there, as are the wardens etc. should raise a few quids.

    More ‘good news’ from our ball-less assembly.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Neil,

    I’m not a defender of Translink, but they are not to blame for the fact that the DRD simply doesn’t properly fund public transport in this country.

    Translink are not mandated or funded to promote the use of public transport usage. They are there to simply try to meet existing demand as cheaply as possible. That’s why the flagship train service, Enterprise, is crap; that’s why we have a stupid smartcard system instead of a proper stored-value integrated ticketing system.

  • rodgerdoc

    @ nevin

    when a civil servant is on secondment it will be the employer he is seconded to that pays him.

  • rodgerdoc

    As someone who has used translink services for the past 6 years daily to commute to work i am sickened by yet another cut to their budget.This will mean another fare increase and/or cuts to services.

    Another case of robbing peter to pay paul instead of making difficult decisions.