Civil servants taking up valuable parking spots

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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A government spokesman has admitted there are potentially many more public sector employees who could be affected by the loss of free parking than originally suggested.

A civil service insider told iomtoday a large number of employees do in fact receive free car parking and the perk goes way beyond just those who need to use a car as part of their job.

The claim flies in the face of information supplied to iomtoday last week, when a government spokesman said free parking for civil servants in Douglas was largely confined to those in jobs such as planning or environmental health where driving and visiting sites is an integral part of the job.

Infrastructure Minister Laurence Skelly MHK confirmed that many government employees enjoy the benefit of free car parking both around the central government offices and at the Sea Terminal and this was not, after all, restricted to those who needed to drive for their job.

‘There is a considerable amount beyond essential car users and some of the parking space is of high commercial value,’ he said.

‘We do have to look at potential new revenue streams for the government and so far we have had a large number of responses to the consultation and some constructive suggestions made.’

According to the iomtoday correspondent, ‘large swathes’ of employees in Crookall House, from management level down, enjoy free car parking.

For example, he says an entire level at Chester Street car park is occupied by workers at Markwell House,

‘A few are essential car users but the vast majority are lower and middle management level who simply travel to and from work,’ he said.

The same goes for St George’s Court, which has underground parking where most vehicles remain throughout the working day, and also for St Andrew’s House where the majority have no need to drive.

Moreover, the correspondent claims the free parking at the back of the main government offices, once in general use on a first come first serve basis, is now used principally by workers in Treasury, who again do not generally need to drive during the day. The current situation means that some civil servants get free parking, while others have to pay.

The government’s spokesman said all aspects of parking had to form part of the consultation.

‘The DoI consultation is about public transport and parking so it was decided to include the staff parking issue to offer both members of staff and the public the chance to comment.

‘Not all government parking is allocated to essential users though arrangements might have to be made for essential users (in future).’

Mr Skelly also said all options are currently under consideration as part of the consultation which finishes at the end of this month (July). The consultation is to consider different ways for the DOI to save £5 million from its budget.

Car parks are maintained by the DOI though allocation of spaces for government employees is decided by the department they work for. Where there are more government workers in a department than there are spaces available, those in senior posts and those who are essential car users tend to take priority for allocated parking spaces. Others may have to pay for it.

Current charges for contract parking at Chester Street car park in central Douglas are £925 plus VAT per year. Daily charges for periods over four and a half hours are £4.50.

Anyone who gets the benefit is £1,110 a year better off than someone who has to pay for parking themselves. They get it tax free.

In our front page story last week, the Examiner revealed that all government workers could be charged for parking at work premises.

This would not be confined to those working in congested Douglas town centre. It would mean teachers at rural schools, police officers outside police stations, doctors and nurses at the hospital and firefighters at fire stations.

The idea is a suggestion from the Department of Infrastructure, which is trying to raise money to offset £5m cuts.

The cuts have been triggered by changes to the VAT-sharing agreement with the UK.

Those changes mean that the Manx government has one third less income than it had in 2007 before the agreement was first altered.

Among the suggestions from the DoI is that all MHKs and MLCs should pay for their parking places, parking meters on roads in Douglas and the restriction of free bus passes to pensioners, rather giving one to everyone over 60.

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