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Northern Ireland’s Roads Minister, Danny Kennedy, has denied declaring war on the motorists of Northern Ireland despite yet another initiative from his office threatening to leave Ulster’s motorists more frustrated than ever.

The latest policy to emanate from the department involves vehicles parked on clearways and bus lanes. In future drivers leaving their vehicles in these areas will be fined £90, have their vehicles removed and clamped. It is where they are taken that will cause most concern for the drivers as the department confirms there will no special compound illegally parked vehicles are taken to. They will be just deposited in the nearest car park or street where parking is legal, and left there.

There is no doubt that many of the offending vehicles are typically covered by commercial vehicle insurance and whose drivers have stopped briefly to make a delivery or enquiry. It is for certain the new policy will worry them even more than private motorists. Apart from the fact that they will fall behind on their schedules they will be issues about the security of their cargo if they fall foul of the new rules.

The move follows the revelation that more than 12,000 parking notices were handed out last year to drivers illegally parking on clearways, and just days after the department said they were providing traffic wardens with mopeds so they could go about their business more vigorously. Minister Kennedy said: “We need to change the ethos and mindset of the increasing numbers of motorists prepared to park in urban clearways and bus lanes. I think this has broad support and people understand the need for enforcement. I have made it absolutely clear there is no war against motorists in Northern Ireland but we will all benefit from an improved transport system.”

The Minister found support from Jimmy Spratt ,the chairman of the Regional Development Assembly Committee, who said “Northern Ireland people are prone to thinking ‘sure it won’t do much harm, and I’ll just park here for five or 10 minutes’. But even a single car in a clearway can cause massive problems. I think there has to be a zero tolerance approach. This will become increasingly important as and when a new rapid transport system is introduced.”

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