Comment: Removing Sabbath perk not justified

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CHURCHES are united today in their opposition to introducing parking charges on Sundays.

Given how it may well impact on congregations, no wonder.

But you don’t have to be a regular churchgoer to find the idea of paying for parking on the Sabbath sinful.

Whichever way you look at it, introducing fees can be seen as little more than a money-making exercise by the city council.

Now, there is a logical argument which says Sunday should be treated the same as any other day of the week. It’s a normal shopping day, and there are few businesses in the city centre which aren’t open to take advantage.

There is also an argument that parking needs to be controlled in some fashion on a Sunday to prevent a dangerous free-for-all.

But there is no real justification for introducing charging other than boosting the council coffers.

Free parking on Sunday is not just a nice perk, it is vital for many city centre businesses.

As they face increasing competition from out-of-town shopping centres with acres of free tarmac, one of the major weapons they still have in their armoury is the fact that Sunday remains charge-free.

Families can drive into the city centre, have a stroll round the shops and perhaps grab a bite to eat without the stress of the parking meter countdown.

Take that away and the city centre retailers will simply face the same fight seven days a week which they currently do Monday to Saturday, with no respite for them or for motorists.

The problem for churchgoers is specific and we hope that at the very least there can be some special dispensation shown here.

The fact that all churches appear united in opposition should send a very clear message to the City Chambers today.

Charging for parking on Sundays is a bad idea all round.