DCSIMG

Parking fees for teachers, nurses, firemen and police

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Proposals to make government workers pay for parking include charges for teachers, firefighters, hospital staff and police who park miles away from congested Douglas town centre.

The proposal is part of an attempt by the Department of Infrastructure to make ends meet after budget cuts.

Karl Flint of the National Union of Teachers said the move would come in ‘over my dead body’ while Andrew Shipley of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said it was ‘totally unacceptable’ and was most likely to put the union in dispute with government.

Mr Flint, island branch secretary of the NUT, said: ‘As far as the NUT is aware there is no other administration in Europe that charges its teachers to park to go to school.

‘Every teacher will respond to the consultation, I hope, to say how ludicrous the idea is, and we will just take it from there.’

He said the feeling among teachers was ‘a mixture of “this is absurd” to “this is laughable, they can’t seriously be thinking about doing this”.’

Mr Shipley, ATL island branch secretary, said: ‘This is totally unacceptable to the ATL. It raises more questions than it answers.

‘How would it be administered? Who would police it? What happens if a car is clamped and a member of staff needs to get from one school site to another to teach at a split site school? Would staff be charged to park when attending parents’ evenings? How would staff get from school to visit work experience placements if they did not have a car?

‘If this proposal to introduce a charge to park at school were to go ahead, the ATL would most likely be in dispute with the Isle of Man Government and it would be up to members to decide collectively what responses they feel would be most appropriate.’

He added: ‘The reputational impact would be significant and would further increase difficulties in recruiting teachers to the Isle of Man.’

The proposals form part of a consultation document which is open for comment until the end of next month after the DoI’s budget was slashed by £5m. Other suggestings include fares being reintroduced for children on school buses, changes to pensioners’ free bus pass entitlements and charging motorists to park on the road in central Douglas.

Currently, government staff who use a car as part of the job - planning inspectors or environmental health officers, for example - have free parking, as do MHKs and MLCs. Other government employees who work in Douglas town centre already have to pay.

Among the other proposals from the DoI is to make MHKs and MLCs pay for their parking in Douglas.

DoI Minister Laurence Skelly said all employees had to be in the frame for it to be a meaningful consultation so it had to include staff in the island’s schools as well as fire brigade personnel and police. But he added this did not mean it was a done deal and such charges would be introduced.

‘It is purely a consultation at present,’ he said.

Fire brigade union regional secretary Les Scarratts said his members were concerned about the proposals and pointed out staff also spent long periods at the fire station preparing equipment and training.

‘For anyone to say that is ludicrous,’ he said.

‘Are they seriously suggesting we might have to spend time looking for somewhere to park? It could even have the effect of increasing response times. It’s just a nonsense.’

Garff MHK and Tynwald speaker Steve Rodan said he too was unhappy with some of the proposals, also describing it as ‘nonsense’.

Mr Rodan’s constituency includes the village of Laxey where there is a fire station staffed by retained firefighters. Children in the village could also be hit with fares on the school bus to secondary school in Ramsey or Douglas.

‘I think it is seriously scraping the bottom of the barrel if we are seriously thinking of this as a source of revenue. Ultimately it is a political decision so people must make their views known as part of the consultation.’

The DoI is losing £5m as part of the government’s attempt to rebalance the books after the VAT agreement was rewritten in the UK’s favour, meaning the Manx government lost around one third of its total income.

The promotion for Tuesday’s Isle of Man Examiner, which broke this story, received a lot of comments from readers.

Another proposal is to charge children for school buses.

Retailers have fears about the effect an introduction of parking meters in Douglas town centre will have on their trade

Click here to read our first story about the proposals

 

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