Secularists fail to end free parking for churchgoers

Churchgoers in Woking can continue to park in the town’s off-street car parks for free on Sundays following an unsuccessful challenge by secularists.

The National Secular Society (NSS), a pressure group, challenged the policy saying that it could be a breach of the Equality Act 2010.

The challenge was launched after it emerged that attendees at town centre churches had saved more than £55,000 over a two-and-a-half-year period.


Following a year long debate on the matter Woking Borough Council has adopted a new policy statement.

The Council narrowly voted in favour of maintaining the current system last Thursday, authorising 345 parking spaces for four churches and inviting applications from other faith groups.

Council leader John Kingsbury said: “I believe council reached the right decision based on the recommendation of the executive and the options available following the equality impact assessment.


“The arrangements have worked well in the past and I see no reason why they should not work well in the future.”

Terry Sanderson, President of the NSS, said: “The Council’s arguments for continuing with this discriminatory policy are full of holes. We are now seeking legal advice on how best to challenge it.

“We are aware that there are other councils around the country that have similar policies and it is important that this is clarified.”

The policy is due to be reviewed in 2017 at the latest.

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