SOUTH Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has expressed frustration with Roads Minister Danny Kennedy after he ruled out a relaxation of the Urban Clearway restrictions on the busy Lisburn Road.

The Sinn Féin Assembly member has been joined by fellow local politicians in making their disappointment known after Mr Kennedy said this week that no changes to the road rules would be made, on either the Lisburn or Ormeau Roads.

A consultation exercise by the Department of Regional Development was carried out under the Minister, but this week he has given a firm “no” to any relaxing of the restrictions, which prevent parking or loading on the inside lanes during peak traffic hours.

There had been calls for changes to be made, which could help provide better parking for shops and residents, with a preferred option being a trial period of change, yet even this was ruled out.

In a letter to Balmoral Sinn Féin councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Minister Kennedy said: “I believe that any benefits to local traders that might arise from a relaxation of these restrictions would be more than offset by disadvantages to the wider community. Consequently my department has no plans to amend these restrictions at present.”

Alex Maskey said the previous DRD minister Conor Murphy, had been “committed” to exploring changes.

“To say I’m disappointed with Mr Kennedy’s decision is an understatement,” he said.

“We had asked for a test period where we could see how any changes could be to the benefit of everyone using thoroughfares such as the Lisburn Road.  Conor Murphy was keen on this trial run but the Department is now showing no flexibility.”

Local SDLP councillor Claire Hannah said the current restrictions were “putting people off” shopping on either of the two main local routes.

“The traders are already fighting as hard as they can to keep afloat, and every option we can look at to help them should be considered.”