Parking charges in Armagh look set to be abolished, Armagh I can reveal.
A judicial challenge has been mounted over the legality of imposing costs on residents of Armagh city and district.
It comes after detailed study of historic papers which indicate that government may have no enforceable right to make residents pay.
Laws dating back to the 14th Century indicate that the land within what now forms the Armagh district actually ‘belongs’ to the citizens living therein.
As such, as legal owners, no government or statesman has the right to impose upon residents – or indeed open air traders, such as at boot sales or market stalls – any charge or payment to park on or make use of what rightfully belongs to them.
The law was introduced to prevent market traders and farmers bringing home-baked and reared produce for sale at urban centres being penalised by having to “take rent of holding position” in order to earn livelihoods to feed and provide for they and their dependants.
It put to an end the practice of unscrupulous and self-aspiring ‘men of substance’, who took from tinkers and traders – depending on the value of their wares – a privy payment and recorded their profits in private in what was known as a ‘loaf slop diary’.
Traders, unable to afford such charge imposed, rebelled, and they took to selling their produce door to door, leaving the urban centres empty, but it led to hardship and wastage.
It led too to the passing of a law which prevented the charging of a tariff, in any form, and allowed their return to once again trade in the open air unhindered.
Long-believed wound up and no longer applicable, it has now been ascertained that they are in fact extant. Indeed, they remain on legal standing and as such are likely to be enforceable.
And they are being translated as meaning that no charge or temporary rent can be imposed on any open air trader or now modern-day motorist seeking to trade or purchase.
Indeed, this is the test which is currently being taken with a challenge at the High Court.
If that proves to be successful, any resident of Armagh City and surrounding towns and villages would be allowed – upon presentation of proof of citizenship – to park free of charge in any car park or on-street, providing they are not causing an obstruction or danger to other users.
It would mean an end to ‘pay and display’ charges or on-street parking charges.
And it could also see both ABC Council and central government at Stormont having to refund any ‘pay and display’ charges if the ticket has been retained.
This would also include paying back to anyone the full amount of any parking penalty or levy made against that person by traffic attendants or wardens previously.
Again, providing the person can give proof the parking penalty was issued for simply parking – rather than parking in an illegal or irresponsible manner so as likely to endanger other road users or pedestrians – refunds could be claimed.
If it goes ahead, both local and central government may be forced to repay tens of millions of pounds dating back to the introduction of parking charges in Armagh city and district.
Legal experts for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and the Parking Enforcement Processing Unit at Stormont are preparing to argue against the judicial challenge, which is being brought on behalf of the people by an anonymous benefactor, who has instructed a Belfast law firm to act in the public’s interest.
The challenge is due to be heard this morning Monday, April 1, at the High Court in Belfast.
NOON UPDATE: For those of you who didn’t realise, this is an April Fool’s joke.