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Planned parking charge changes 'discriminate against St Helier residents'

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ST Helier residents who rely on free overnight parking could be left having to find an extra £500 a year if proposals to extend chargeable parking hours come into force.

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St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft has said the proposed changes ‘discriminate’ against parishioners who do not have private parking and rely on public spaces, which are currently free between 5pm and 8am.

But under proposals revealed by the government this week, chargeable parking hours could be increased by two hours a day – between 7am and 6pm – which could affect Islanders who park their cars for free in public spaces after normal work hours. Parking costs 85p per hour.

Many residents who do not have onsite parking are forced to use public spaces as, on some streets, there is a waiting time of up to 2½ years to get a resident’s parking permit.

The proposed changes come as part of the government’s proposals to cut spending and generate revenue to plug a £40m funding gap identified in the Government Plan.

Extending the Island’s chargeable parking hours would bring in an estimated £700,000 per year, according to the government, with a £12.50 rise in the cost of a passports anticipated to generate £190,000.

Mr Crowcroft criticised the government for its ‘lack of consultation’ on the parking changes and said that the first he had heard about the proposals was when the latest savings update was published.

‘It has also been done without a transport policy being developed and it is completely the wrong way around,’ said Mr Crowcroft.

The government says that by increasing parking charge times they hope to ‘encourage Islanders to use more sustainable modes of transport, in line with a wider climate aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions’.

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Deputy Kirsten Morel, who has made a string of calls for details on savings to be made public, believes they cannot be labelled as efficiencies.

He added: ‘I can’t see how they can call them efficiencies, because that isn’t what they are – they are extra charges on the public. Savings and charges are very different.’

Islanders have also hit out at the government, accusing them of targeting people on low incomes and those who shop after regular work hours.

Islander Jennifer Smith said: ‘I am aware of pensioners who wait until after 5pm to shop so they don’t have to pay for parking.

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‘This is going to hit them hard and should be reconsidered. It is one step away from charging on a Sunday if the shops are allowed to open.’

A debate on whether Sunday trading should be extended to shops over 700sq m was due to continue in the States Chamber today.

Islander Mark Jacklin said: ‘I think it’s appalling that the government are targeting people on low incomes who can’t afford private parking.’

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