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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Christians in Chichester want free parking, while everyone else pays

Christians in Chichester are up in arms that they are expected to pay the same parking charges as everyone else.

This week, the District Council’s cabinet decided to introduce a Sunday tariff of £1 for four hours and £2 for over four hours in long-stay car parks and the standard current tariff in short-stay car parks.

The Rev John Collins ofExeter Road,Chichester, said the council should only charge after morning worship has ended. He said: “This adds a burden on those wishing to worship in the city’s churches, especially the elderly on limited means”.

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “There are people who have no option but to do their shopping on Sunday because of work and family commitments. Some of them are poor, too, but they will still have to pay the parking charges. None of us relish parking fees, but giving exemptions specifically to church-goers would be illegal and discriminatory. We have written to Chichester Council to remind them of this, just in case they are considering buckling under pressure from the churches.”

Mr Sanderson said that the NSS was still waiting to hear from Woking Council, which already grants concessions for worshippers which have cost taxpayers more than £50,000 over the past 18 months. Local newspapers report that Woking Council will consider the NSS’s legal opinion at its next meeting.”

Published Fri, 30 Sep 2011