Blue coats enforce fines in some council car parks

1 week ago 25

Now blue coat parking attendants will be responsible for off-street public parking in parts of Northern IrelandImage source, Mid Ulster Council

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Now blue coat parking attendants will be responsible for off-street public parking in parts of Northern Ireland

By Niall McCracken

BBC News NI mid-ulster reporter

Changes in how to pay for some parking and who enforces fines have come into effect in parts of Northern Ireland this week.

Enforcement for on-street and off-street parking had been provided by red coat traffic attendants.

This was through an agreement between the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and local councils.

Now blue coat parking attendants will be responsible for off-street public parking in parts of Northern Ireland.

The change is happening because eight councils have entered a new enforcement contract for off-street parking with the company Marston (Holdings) Ltd.

It will also see the introduction of a new cashless parking system at some council-run pay and display car parks, although cash will still be accepted.

DfI retains responsibility for regulating on-street parking in Northern Ireland and those parking attendants will still wear red coats. The JustPark app will also still be used for on-street parking.

Marston Holdings core business is debt collection but it also has a parking enforcement division which operates under the NSL brand.

Lawyers found "significant failings" in the council's procurement process. The authority paid more than £1.6m after it agreed to settle the case out of court and became liable for the legal costs of Marston Holdings Ltd.

Parking tickets

Figures published by DfI show that there were more than 690,000 parking offences in Northern Ireland between January 2018 and September 2023.

More than 70% of these were for on-street parking and almost 30% were for off-street parking offences.

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Changes to the enforcement of fines have come into effect in parts of Northern Ireland this week

DFI also confirmed to BBC News NI there had been more than £12m in revenue generated from fines for on-street parking and bus lane contraventions between April 2022 and December 2023.

DfI said it did not hold the figures for-off street parking fines as these would be held by individual councils.

The Lisburn Road in Belfast had the highest amount of on-street parking fines, with more than 10,000 between 2021 and 2023.

Meanwhile, DfI confirmed that there had been no parking fines issued in Coalisland between 2019 and 2023.

A spokesperson for DfI said: "Coalisland is not patrolled on a routine basis because there are very few parking restrictions in the town and experience demonstrates that when visited there has been no enforcement action required.

"Although Coalisland is not routinely patrolled by traffic attendants the department will continue to respond to requests for enforcement, when the need arises, or when requested and resources are available."

Which councils are involved?

The councils confirmed to be entering a new enforcement contract with Marston (Holdings) Ltd include:

  • Belfast
  • Ards and North Down
  • Derry City and Strabane
  • Fermanagh and Omagh
  • Newry, Mourne and Down
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon
  • Lisburn and Castlereagh
  • Mid Ulster

A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: "We are not involved in the changes and continue with our current arrangement".

BBC News NI has contacted Causeway Coast and Glens, as well as Mid and East Antrim Councils for a statement regarding their current parking enforcement arrangements.

In some council areas the changes were due to start on 1 April but were delayed because of Easter holidays, with the new enforcement beginning on 3 April.

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The changes will also see the introduction of a new cashless parking system at some council-run pay and display car parks

The new contract will also see the introduction of a cashless parking system at some pay and display car park through a new app.

For example in the Mid Ulster District Council area, the Just Park app will be replaced by the RingGo app.

A spokesperson for Mid Ulster Council said: "The main change for car park users is that parking attendants will wear a blue uniform, but their responsibilities and legal authority will remain the same and any Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued will be valid."

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