Private company to enforce parking regulations in towns

Private company to enforce parking regulations in towns

27 March 2024

A NEW company has been appointed to enforce parking regulations across the district.

Mason Holdings Ltd will take over the role from the Department for Infrastructure next week with enforcement staff wearing blue uniforms after it secured a five-year contract.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council has agreed the new contract, with the wardens responsible for policing local authority-owned car parks in Downpatrick and Ballynahinch where charges apply.

However, residents, shoppers and visitors will continue to be allowed to park for free in Newcastle, Castlewellan and Saintfield which is a major issue for many.

At the start of the year, the Recorder revealed that a review was ordered in the wake of the controversial decision to hike car parking charges across the district, with a 200% increase for the parks in Downpatrick and Ballynahinch.

Business owners have warned the move – taken in April last year without detailed public consultation –  was driving shoppers away, while homeowners in a number of residential areas in Downpatrick revealed increasing numbers of shop and office workers are leaving their vehicles outside their homes.

There was also anger that while charges in Downpatrick and Ballynahinch have risen to 40 pence per hour – increasing the cost of a weekly parking ticket to almost £20 – parking in Newcastle, Castlewellan and Saintfield remained free.

The council defended the increased parking charges, insisting it was necessary to generate additional income as the organisation has been handed responsibility for the maintenance of 80 car parks across its area. 

Previously, the Department for Infrastructure was responsible.

Traders in Downpatrick and Ballynahinch remain concerned that charges in local authority car parks, which were previously the responsibility of the government department, do not apply universally across the district, insisting the same rules should apply across all council car parks and there needs to be a level playing field.

The new contract with Mason Holdings Ltd will result in the company providing enforcement parking services across the council’s 39 off-street car parks.

Council officials say while the colour of staff uniforms will change from red to blue, their responsibilities and legal authority remains the same, and any penalty charge notices issued will be valid.

Council chairwoman Valerie Harte said she was pleased the council has been able to move swiftly on securing a new provider and looks forward to working with Marston Holdings Ltd over the next five years.

“We always put our residents first and wanted to ensure there is no disruption to services, whilst getting on board a new provider to deliver this very important service,” she said.

“Residents should see no disruption to our off-street car parking services as we mobilise the contract and we are committed to providing a high-quality service for residents across the district.”

It has been confirmed that residents can still use coin/cash to pay for their parking in any of the district’s 11 pay and display car parks, including Downpatrick and Ballynahinch. 

And the ‘Just Park’ app will be replaced by the ‘Ring Go’ app, enabling car park users to continue to have the option to pay through their mobile phones.

Off-street car park users are being advised to download the new ‘Ring Go’ and use it from next Tuesday by visiting or download via Google Play or Apple App Store.  

Car park season tickets, which are already available at most pay and display car parks, will continue to be available to those who wish to purchase in advance. Tickets already purchased will remain valid until their expiry date.

From next week, parking complaints, including penalty charge notices appeals, will be dealt with by Marston Holdings Ltd through the following contact number 0333 0068 351.

For further information on the new changes and for links to download the new ‘Ring Go’ app please visit