ENNISKILLEN business leaders have expressed concerns about the high level of town centre parking that is affecting trade.
The Enniskillen Business Partnership (EBP) said that people parking in spaces that are out of bounds to them are causing problems for delivery lorries and disabled drivers who need to park nearby to shop.
The worst of the parking mayhem is along East Bridge Street, past the Diamond and along Church Street.
Despite spaces that are clearly marked for disabled drivers or have ‘loading bay only’ painted in big, clear lettering for lorry drivers making deliveries to shops, selfish drivers are still parking their vehicles in them when they are not supposed to.
A spokesman for the EBP said: “The general consensus amongst our members is that the parking is appalling. We have a situation where very few people can park properly with cars taking up two spaces where there should be enough space for three cars.
“Those who are parking are a disgrace. They have no regard for old people and the lorry drivers making deliveries. We get a lot of comments from the lorry drivers on this and also from old people who have to go round and round the town looking for disabled spaces.
“People are just driving up the town, parking their car (in spaces for disabled drivers and loading bays) and heading off for the day. That’s an appalling thing to do.
“We would attribute the entire blame to the Council. They will say that the public realm scheme hasn’t been adopted. That’s all very well, but try telling people that. Try telling people who have disabled badges that.
“The people who do this should go and park in the car-parks like everybody else. We should be having the redcoats (traffic wardens) back – there should be something the Council could be doing, but as usual, they do nothing.
“The entire town is just a car-park – an all-day free car-park.
“We can’t go on like this because we have Easter coming up and it will be a busy time for the shops. There must be something that can be done?
“All the shops are getting all their deliveries because spring time is coming. There’s lots of shops that could be getting 10 or 20 cartons in and the delivery men are having to come from all over the place just to try and deliver.
“We have tried to explain to the Council so many times that there are only two ways to get about in Enniskillen – round it or through it.”
The Herald asked the EBP if pedestrianising Enniskillen town centre might be an option to stop the rogue parkers only for them to reply that it was a non-starter citing concerns of what happened to businesses in Lisburn when that city’s centre did that.
The spokesman added: “That would not be an option. Enniskillen is a holiday town and people like to stroll or drive through it. We’ve fought pedestrianising the town for a long while.
“Take Lisburn for example. The Mall was the ‘in place’ but now it’s dead now thanks to pedestrianisation.
“Then they built the shopping centre at Sprucefield which killed one of the best shopping areas in the north (Lisburn city centre) stone dead and reduced it to zero. Shops need footfall and cars bring that footfall.
“But if people can’t access shops because of the current state of parking here, then they will go elsewhere.”
The Herald contacted Fermanagh & Omagh District Council only for a spokeswoman to say that this was a matter for the Department for Infrastructure.
A spokesman for the Department said: “With the introduction of any new public realm scheme, which changes the road layout, new legislation is required to define the updated restrictions.
“This work could not be initiated until the scheme was built to allow for any alterations to the design.
“The legislative process for this is ongoing and will take a number of months to complete.”
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