Responding to a recent question in the States the Minister of Transport & Technical Services stated that the latest survey of parking availability in town showed that around half of the spaces in the public car parks have space at various times of the day. I put it to him that we need to bring back some kind of real-time information screen on the approach roads to St Helier that conveys this good news to motorists. The Minister reacted positively to the idea but I wonder how long it will take? His answer also revealed that the user-friendly alternative to paycards, the long-awaited 'pay on exit' parking system due to be trialled this year in Sand Street car park, has now been put back till the autumn. I also asked the Minister to consider introducing incentives to encourage shoppers to make the trip into town, such as 'first hour free' and/or 'free from 3pm', as the price of a paycard has now risen to such a level that it deters some people from popping into town to make a few purchases which they can more conveniently make from an out-of-town shop where there are no parking charges.
The occasional prophet of doom in respect of the town's future hasn't, I think, been to St Helier recently. We know footfall is down and retail sales have slumped, due mainly to the recession and competition from online shopping, but you can't sit in a pleasant town square on the internet, or chat face to face with friends over a coffee or a snack. And in spite of recent bad weather, town is gradually coming more safe, clean and attractive, thronged with tourists, including the innovative guides dressed in the uniform of the 1781 Jersey Militia, while events such as the recent 'container art galleries' on Weighbridge Place occur on a regular basis.
Town businesses can nominate an representative or 'mandataire' to vote in Parish Assemblies (for more info' please contact the Town Hall or visit the website www.sthelier.je) which means that every business in St Helier can have a say in how much will be paid in parish rates this year. On Wednesday 11th July the previous year's accounts will be presented and budgets for the new financial year and all town traders are encouraged to come along.