Surrey

Free parking for Woking church goers questioned

Free parking for some church goers in Woking will be reviewed after the policy was challenged by the National Secular Society.

Worshippers at three churches do not pay to use two public car parks on a Sunday morning, while shoppers do.

The society believes the policy falls foul of equality laws and has forced Woking Borough Council to review it.

Ray Morgan, chief executive of the council, said the authority had sought formal legal advice on its policy.

Keith Porteous Wood, the society's executive director, said the practice was discriminatory.

He said: "People who are going to Woking to shop have to pay, people who are going to worship don't - that seems to me almost a definition of discrimination.

"[The council can] take Sunday parking charges off, well that's fine so everybody benefits.

"But if it decides it wants to charge on Sunday, I'm afraid that we have to do it on an equal basis for everybody."

Worshippers at Coign Church, Christ Church and Trinity Methodist Church insert tickets into a "validating device" at their churches, which encodes the tickets so that they raise the exit barrier without needing to pay.

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