The name that is often used for Michael Jackson, the pop star who lives in New Jersey, is "Whacko Jacko" , a nickname gained because of his habit of behaving in a seemingly outrageous manner.
Our own Jersey Constable and namesake, Michael Jackson, does not behave in any kind of outrageous manner, but he has recently come up with a few really "whacky" suggestions to improve parking.
One is to use the "Petit Train" from St Aubin's to St Brelade, which he says if used by commuters could release up to 30 parking spaces in St Helier, if the car drivers using it were all single car users. The Jersey Evening post has already pointed out one disadvantage - the passenger compartments are not water tight or well-shielded from the elements, which would lead to a very cold ride, and in case of high tides, a very wet one.
But a more fundamental flaw is that - unless it could be guaranteed that all the 30 drivers came from their own private parking spaces in St Aubin - those 30 cars would need somewhere to park - at St Aubin! Where St Helier might have congestion problems, it has nothing like the level of difficulty that parking in St Aubin has, and to add 30 cars to 9-5 stay in the car parks in St Aubin would significantly reduce the parking. I am sure the St Aubin businesses would have something to say about that! It is a perfect example of non-joined up thinking - "how can I reduce the impact of cars on St Helier", leading to completely forgetting the impact on St Aubin. But then Michael Jackson, as Constable, has his own private space at St Aubin's Parish Hall - don't forget that.
The other suggestion to tax private parking spaces is also poorly thought out. In fact, a number of these are already taxed because the landlords are businesses charging GST on the rental, so there would be a double tax impact. Moreover, if private parking became sufficiently expensive to act as a deterrent, the idea that this would make those commuters take to the bus is laughable. They would simply move to public parking, and the impact would be there instead. This might have a knock on effect so that some road users would take the bus, but it is only a might be.
Of course one set of private spaces are free, and therefore would presumably be untaxed. States members, and the senior Crown Officers, have their own private and free parking in St Helier, and it seems a bit unfair that they should consider other private car parking, and somehow exclude their own, which they do not even pay for. Guy De Faye, to give him credit for something, did take the bus in and out of St Helier, and somehow managed to get to States meetings on time without trouble. Perhaps Michael Jackson, as Minister for TTS, would set a similar example before penalizing others?
A park and ride scheme, perhaps around La Collette, with frequent buses, say minibuses every ten minutes over the rush hour period, would be a better suggestion, and has been tried before with a measure of success, and I assume the "Hoppa Bus" service suggested could accommodate this. Unfortunately, at the moment, the headline grabber is a picture of "Le Petit Train", and our own home grown "Whacko Jacko", who obviously aspires to be as colourful in the post as Minister for TTS as his predecessor for making really whacky suggestions.
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