Civil Service members, who have had access to a car parking space in Belfast City Centre, will now be aware that the Department of Finance has ended the contract for leased car parking spaces in private car parks, from 1 December 2020. Only those car park spaces that are attached to owned or leased buildings will be available to NICS staff.
There was no consultation with NIPSA on this issue, either before the decision was taken or on the development and implementation of the new policy. NIPSA was simply presented with the fact that the NICS Board had taken this decision.
The Department of Finance established an inter-departmental working group to bring forward the new interim NICS City Centre Car Parking Policy and NIPSA was presented with the finished policy which determined that only those with Blue Badges or a disability would qualify for the limited number of spaces available. Staff who feel they are entitled to a space have been asked to make an application, but it is not yet clear if there will be enough spaces for all the staff who might qualify under the policy.
Whilst it is right that there should be provision for those staff with mobility issues, NIPSA asked that consideration should also be given to other staff including, for example, essential users and those car-pooling but we were told that would not be possible as there are no longer enough spaces. NIPSA also asked for the implementation date of the new interim policy to be pushed back as there was insufficient notice for members to make alternative arrangements, but this was also refused.
NIPSA has asked for a formal review of the policy, to include a cost benefit analysis, and an assessment of the potential negative impact on business services.
NIPSA has also registered a formal disagreement on the failure to consult.
In the meantime, we would encourage individual members to raise concerns with and seek advice from line managers if they believe this decision will adversely affect how they are able to carry out their duties.