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Ministers ‘do not know’ how to fill the £700,000 shortfall

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MINISTERS do not yet know how they will fund a £700,000 gap in government finances after Members rejected imposing additional charges on parking.

Deputy Lindsay Ash

During the Government Plan debate, Deputy Russell Labey successfully persuaded Members to block government proposals to increase charging hours for parking from the current 8am to 5pm to 7am to 6pm.

An alternative proposal from ministers would only have extended parking hours at the end of the day but increase hourly parking units by 5p.

However, the States Assembly rejected calls to make changes to parking fees – leaving the efficiencies section of the Government Plan facing a £700,000 shortfall.

And Assistant Treasury Minister Lindsay Ash has admitted that the Council of Ministers do not currently know where that money will be found.

He also questioned the judgment of those Members who supported Deputy Labey’s amendment given the States declaration of a climate change emergency earlier this year.

He said: ‘It is not known where that money will come from yet but it isn’t a massive amount of money.

‘I imagine it could be taken from little bits of certain budgets, but we’re not sure yet.

‘It isn’t a huge amount like £10 million, which we would have to find urgently.’

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The government came under scrutiny for the decision to label the extra hours as an efficiency, with some States Members stating it was simply a tax placed on residents. Deputy Labey had argued that the move was ‘dressed up’ as a green initiative, but its true purpose was to increase revenue for the government.

Ministers had said that increasing parking charges would force people to abandon their cars and instead use public transport which in turn would help the Island’s environmental policies.

Deputy Ash added: ‘The States Assembly almost unanimously voted to bring in green measures and this goes against that.’

Deputy Ash insisted it would have been a ‘commercial efficiency’ and not a tax on people and it would have helped as Jersey moves to take action on climate change.

He added: ‘It is an efficiency, because it is running Jersey’s car parks in a more efficient way.

‘Jersey’s car parks aren’t being run in an efficient way, and by doing this it makes the car parks more commercially efficient.’

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