Paid parking to resume on Monday…issues new regulations… JFAP finally sees the light: condemns unjust contractDespite a High Court order on Thursday putting the controversial Parking Meter Project on hold, the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) will be restarting paid parking in the city come Monday with a plethora of new concessions for motorists.This was announced by Mayor Patricia Chase Green at a joint press conference held on Friday by the M&CC and Smart City Solutions (SCS), the company contracted to carry out the project.Mayor Patricia Chase Green and Town Clerk Royston King, along with Director of SCS Amir Oren and Kit Nascimento at a joint press conference on FridayMayor Chase Green, in her statement to reporters, said “As of Monday next, we will resume implementation of the Parking Meter Project.”When questioned about this decision to restart the project in light of the pending court action, the Mayor explained that legal advice was sought on the matter. “My understanding of the matter before the court is one that doesn’t stop us; there’s not an injunction that stops us from operating,” she posited.At that point, Town Clerk Royston King interjected and blocked further questioning on the issue.Court orderOn Thursday, acting Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards handed down a court order calling on the Mayor and City Council, and the Town Clerk, the named respondents, to show cause why the project should not be quashed. The order was granted after an application for judicial review was made by Attorney Kamal Ramkarran, on behalf of Mohendra Arjune.The respondents will have to present their case on February 27, before Justice Brassington Reynolds. Also on that date, a second court action on the Parking Meter Project against the City Council filed by the New Building Society (NBS) will also come up for hearing, where the Town Clerk and Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan were ordered to present arguments on why the Parking Meter Project should not be quashed.Minister Bulkan had signed off on the By-laws to green-light paid parking in the city last month.However, among the orders granted by the Chief Justice on Thursday was the revocation of “the decision of the Mayor and Councillors and anyone acting by or through them or under their directions or instructions or on their behalf to exempt persons or categories of persons from paying fees for parking in the City of Georgetown and being subject to penalties for parking in Georgetown.”PenaltiesIn this regard, when asked whether as of Monday clamping of vehicles will recommence as well, King told reporters “we will resume our operations on Monday and that will include the tools that are available to us for non-compliance of our By-laws.”Further pressed whether those “tools” was were referring to clamping, the Town Clerk responded in the negative, however, Director of Business Development attached to SCS, Amir Oren, said “Yes”.But, Mayor Chase Green immediately interrupted saying, “Don’t let them (media) confuse you Amir!” She went on to point out that there will be immobilisation to give persons permission to pay for the parking space they would have occupied without a parking meter ticket, as oppose to a fine that previously obtained.This is one of the new changes made to the paid parking model, whereby they are moving from a ‘pay for space’ method to ‘pay for plate’, which can be used at more than one parking zone. This will allow for motorists to pay for parking time for their vehicles, as oppose to pay for parking space for a particular amount of time.“This effectively means that motorists will be able to purchase any amount of time for their cars, even if it’s on a discounted basis, and they’ll be able to put those parking tickets within cars and then use that time anywhere within any Meter Parking Zones in the city (until the time on the parking ticket expires),” Oren explained.Fee structureThe other changes include a 50 per cent reduction of meter rates for those parking eight hours or more. This means motorists buying parking time for eight hours or more will pay $25 dollars for 15 minutes plus Value Added Tax (TAX). Meanwhile, the $50 per 15 minutes plus VAT metered parking fee will remain the same and be applied to all motorists parking for periods of 15 minutes to four hours.“The idea really is to cement the market for those persons who would come to town and look for parking on a short-term basis, so that you’re enhancing many of the benefits of mobility and parking space turn-over that you would have with such a structure, but at the same time take into account that you need to make available discounted parking for the working class or those parking for long-term hours in the city,” the SCS official stated.However according to Oren, those motorists purchasing four hours of parking at $50 per 15 minutes plus VAT, which effectively costs the same as eight hours with the 50 per cent reduction as mentioned, will automatically be credited with four more bonus hours of metered parking. This, Oren noted, was done to ensure that the new payment structure makes sense in that motorist buying less time pay more and those buying more time pay less.Furthermore, the SCS Business Director disclosed that a 15 minutes grace period before clamping has also been introduced, as well as one month free from paying the immobilisation fee so that motorists can become familiarised with the new changes. However, vehicles will still be immobilised but instead of paying the immobilisation penalty fee, motorists will be required to pay the parking fees ($50 for every 15 minutes) spent on the Parking Zones.These changes, however, will be enforced until the By-laws are amended. The draft documents are currently being prepared and this process will take some seven to 10 days.According to Mayor Chase Green, these changes were as a result of further talks recently held with various stakeholders. Minister of State Joseph Harmon had disclosed last week that the penalty aspect of metered parking in the city was relaxed to facilitate further consultants after widespread consultations against the project continued.It was noted that these new rates were initially designed for the working class, but given the practice of businesses to secure parking in front of their buildings, a decision was taken to have the concessions be applicable to all motorists.The Parking Meter Project has caused widespread criticism with various stakeholders calling for it to be cancelled. It has also attracted mass protest actions.