MLAs back Northern Ireland parking fines increase
Assembly members have voted to accept a proposed hike in car parking fines.
In April, Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said he intended to raise the charge from £60 to £90 but with a 50% reduction if paid within 14 days.
The plans passed despite opposition from the regional development committee which brought forward a 'prayer of annulment' to try to overturn the rise.
Chairman Jimmy Spratt said committee members did not agree on the policy merits of the proposed changes.
He said the committee felt further efficiencies could be realised.
In response, Mr Kennedy said the penalty increase was to act as a deterrent to those parking illegally and he denied parking attendants were "over-zealous" in their approach.
He claimed the fine increase would reduce congestion, improve safety and accessibility and increase turnover in parking spaces.
The minister said that if members had refused to accept the changes, there would have been "severe consequences" which would have caused him and his department to identify efficiencies that would "potentially impact frontline activities" such as grass-cutting and road repairs.
He said he would agree to look at the merits of a dual layer approach to charging which would mean low impact offences, such as a few minutes over time, would attract a lesser penalty than those who parked in blue badge bays or bus lanes.
He also said he wanted to introduce electronic payment for parking.
The prayer of annulment was voted down, which in turn meant the proposed rise will now go ahead.
Mr Spratt later said that although he had represented the committee in opposing the fine increase, he personally was in favour of it.