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Rare sight of parking warden in Coalisland causes social media stir

Brendan Hughes

IT'S the Co Tyrone town notorious for its lack of parking tickets.

And so for many in Coalisland it came as quite a surprise to see this strange red-coated figure.

In a rare sighting, a parking attendant was spotted early yesterday morning walking the streets of the town.

The event was considered so unusual that one man stopped to take photos.

He posted the images as proof on Facebook, creating a local social media stir as they were shared dozens of times.

One Facebook user joked: "He will have a sore wrist later with all those tickets!"

Another said in disbelief: "Surely that's someone dressed up for a laugh – is that definitely the Island?"

One woman also described him as a "brave fella" while another wrote: "I'm surprised he hasn't got a bodyguard with him. But if people parked courteously, he wouldn't be there. It's been like the Wild West for years."

For six years in a row not a single parking ticket has been issued in Coalisland.

The lack of penalties has caused controversy due to motorists in other towns of a similar size and smaller receiving dozens of penalties.

Coalisland residents have previously shared on social media sites photos of poor parking in the town

DUP assembly member Maurice Morrow has previously branded Coalisland a town where "traffic wardens are forbidden to enter".

Coalisland man Dan Campbell, who posted the photos online, said it was the first time he had ever seen a parking attendant in the town.

"There was another fella sort of with him but he was in plain clothes. He said he has to come out at least once a month to check the parking in the town. I didn't see them issuing any tickets," he said.

"There's a lot of people talking about it. A lot of people have reacted to it – people can't believe it."

Coalisland is regarded as a hotspot for problem parking, but roads chiefs say there are few parking restrictions for attendants to enforce such as double-yellow lines.

They have also previously blamed politicians for opposing the creation of new parking restrictions in the town.

A Department for Infrastructure spokeswoman yesterday said: "There are very few parking restrictions in Coalisland and therefore the department, up until August 2016, did not routinely deploy traffic attendants to visit the town.

"However, following a request from an MLA for enforcement in Coalisland, traffic attendants visited the town once in August and once today. On both occasions, no contraventions were found and therefore no Penalty Charge Notices were issued.

"It is proposed that traffic attendants will be deployed in the town one day per month. A review of the effectiveness and efficiency of this deployment will be carried out over the next few months. An evidence-based decision will then be taken on whether or not to continue with deployment.

"The ongoing safety of traffic attendants is paramount and is monitored on an ongoing basis."

Nearly 77,000 on-street parking tickets were issued across Northern Ireland during 2015.

The Penalty Charge Notices carry a £90 fine, reduced to £45 if paid within 14 days.

In February it emerged that parking attendants across the north have recorded more than 100 threats against them within a year.

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