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Monday, February 20, 2006

Parking for free

The Assembly Parliamentary Service and the House Committee have been wrestling with the problem of staff car parking for years now. The issue is that we do not have enough car parking spaces down Cardiff Bay, whilst those we are using are under threat of being developed in the near future. We also have a duty to sustainable development, which means that we should be encouraging staff to use public transport. Unfortunately, although they are improving the trains and buses running to and from the Assembly are not always available when they are needed.

We have looked at introducing car parking charges for staff but so far have not gone down that route. There have been other considerations as well such as the retention of staff. One of the reasons why the Assembly Parliamentary Service budget has been underspent for years now is because we have not been able to fill all the vacancies.

Now however, the Welsh Assembly Government has grasped the nettle and told civil servants working in their building in Cathays Park that they will have to pay £12 a week to park their cars under the old Welsh Office building where they work:

Furious civil servants are threatening to withdraw all "goodwill" from Assembly bosses after being told they will have to pay £12 a week to park their cars under the old Welsh Office in Cathays Park, Cardiff. The car park, with 400 spaces, has been free since the building went up in 1979.

If staff goodwill is withdrawn, it will be difficult to implement the merger of three major quangos with the Assembly Government. The WDA, Wales Tourist Board and the training body Elwa. It will also jeopardise plans to relocate staff to new Assembly Government offices in Aberystwyth and Llandudno.

On Wednesday, members of the PCS union employed by the Assembly Government in Cathays Park meet to discuss a hard-hitting motion, which deplores the plan to impose the charge from May despite a petition by 1,150 staff.

The motion says, "Imposing charges will be detrimental and unfair on staff based at Cathays Park, since there are no immediate plans to introduce charging elsewhere. Charging will not apply to Assembly Members or Ministers.

"Our lowest paid members will find it particularly difficult to afford the charges. At £2.40 per day it would work out at £528 per year, which is 4% of the salary of those at the minimum of the Team Support grade.

"While supporting the Assembly Government's Green Travel aims, this meeting believes that these can be better met by initiatives such as giving more incentives to car-sharing, increasing financial assistance to improving public transport, and pursuing park and ride facilities with Cardiff City Council and other major employers."

What has particularly riled staff is that Assembly Members and Ministers will continue to be able to park for free. Although there are only three or four spaces at Cathays Park where AMs can leave their cars, and many do not go there anyway, it does seem to me that staff have a point. If we are serious about penalising car use then we cannot exempt ourselves from this new regime.

Ordinary Assembly Members will not have much say in what is being proposed for Cathays Park. It is a government decision. However, there does need to be a serious re-think if AMs and Ministers are to be treated differently from those who work for them.
if AMs and Ministers are to be treated differently from those who work for them

Do you know the website, 'TheyWorkForYou


Why do you think it's called that, Peter?
er.. could it be because it refers to the fact that MPs work for us? My post does not contradict that.
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