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Plans to increase chargeable car park hours scrapped

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PLANS to expand the chargeable hours for using St Helier’s public car parks have been blocked after the States passed a Government Plan amendment.

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The Council of Ministers had proposed to extend the current hours of 8am to 5pm to 7am to 6pm in order to raise £700,000, but Deputy Russell Labey’s amendment was approved by 30 votes to 12 meaning that the new measures will not be introduced.

Outlining his proposals, Deputy Labey said that the move was ‘dressed up’ as a green initiative, but its true purpose was to increase revenue for the government.

‘This is not a green initiative. It is revenue raising pure and simple,’ he said.

He added that Jersey did not have a sufficient public transport system, such as a train or trams, as an alternative means of transport for commuters.

Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis said that the government’s proposals would not affect retail in St Helier because the extended hours were outside peak shopping time.

He added: ‘We have 81 car parks around the Island. There is free parking at most of these sites.

‘And we cannot afford to forego the income from this without a significant impact on the Government Plan.’

The minister lodged an amendment to the amendment abandoning the proposal to start charging at 7am but keeping the one at 6pm and proposing to raise hourly parking rates by 5p. But this was rejected 29 to 14 by Members.

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St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft said that the government’s proposals would be unfair because many commuters rented private parking and would not be affected by the increased charges.

He added: ‘Successive ministers in the Infrastructure Department have failed to bring forward a sustainable transport policy which would have made this proposal unnecessary.’

Assistant Treasury Minister Lindsay Ash came out in favour of the proposals, claiming that Jersey needs to address its issue with excessive traffic.

But Senator Sarah Ferguson said that she was concerned that elderly and low-income people might struggle with the extra charges

‘This will hit low income people, particularly in St Helier. And for pensioners we need to have a proper transport policy,’ she said.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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