At a time when local retailers are reeling from the double whammy of exorbitant rates and internet trading, one would have expected a sympathetic response from government.

However, judging by the tin ear the authorities have given to calls for parking restrictions to be eased on the Lisburn Road, it appears that no one at Stormont is listening.

At a time of falling consumer spend, local shopkeepers need every assistance they can get in order to keep the tills ringing.

On the Lisburn Road, that would mean not increasing parking fines — which go up by 50 per cent from June —  but a novel and flexible approach to the current parking regulations which clearly deter shoppers.

In particular, traders have argued for a tidal parking scheme whereby traffic could park on the out-of-city side of the Lisburn Road during the morning rush and on the city side in the evening.

Such an arrangement would give merchants a little fillip at the start and end of each trading day.

Sadly, the bureaucrats in the Department of Regional Development have regarded such a minor adjustment to current policy as a veritable assault on the Bastille, insisting that there can be no change under any circumstances to the current arrangements.

The sting in the tail for those who patronise local shops on the Lisburn Road — following the call of this paper and others to buy local — is that more fines are levied on that road than anywhere else in Northern Ireland.

Bad enough to have been hit with a £60 parking fine on the free-fire-zone for traffic wardens which is the Lisburn Road but from June that fine will increase to £90. Undoubtedly, anyone who ends up getting a £90 ticket on the Lisburn Road won’t be back in a hurry.

The end result: fewer shoppers, less business, more shop closures.

Isn’t it time the suits in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (in short, the jobs department) had a word with their colleagues in the Department of Regional Development?