Charges for on-street parking may not be the best way forward at this stage.
That was the suggestion of Infrastructure Minister David Cretney in response to a House of Keys question from Douglas West MHK Chris Thomas.
But Mr Cretney, whose department has completed town centre parking studies on Douglas, Peel, Ramsey and Castletown with a view to finding a standardised approach across the island, said he was counting nothing in or out at present.
He was challenged by Mr Thomas over a statement in the report which said: ‘Unconstrained free parking is unlikely to remain an option.’
Mr Cretney pointed out that many other places, even small towns in the UK, were introducing parking charges to offset costs. Similarly he said residents’ parking permits for those living within disc zones were currently issued free of charge but a fee could be introduced in the future to offset costs of registration and enforcement.
‘At this stage I do not believe on street parking charges are the way forward because we need to be sensitive to the difficulties of the retail sector.’
Mr Cretney rejected Onchan MHK Peter Karran’s assertion that on-street parking charges would be a ‘death knell’ for retail but agreed it needed support.
He also opposed a suggestion that parking on the promenades in Douglas should incur a charge during the Christmas period.
Mr Thomas also asked if a variable messaging system showing availability of car parking spaces in Douglas was a viable option and said Chester Street car park was often under utilised.
Mr Cretney said such a system was possible and could be used to good advantage.
The DoI owns two car parks – Chester Street and Drumgold Street – both of which are pay and display and both of which recently introduced Sunday charges.