Labour want new workplace car park tax for city

Labour's Andrew Burns at manifesto launch
Labour's Andrew Burns at manifesto launch
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LABOUR is to fight the city council elections campaigning for the power to introduce a new tax on workplace parking spaces.

The party said the charge - levied on businesses rather than individuals - could bring in millions of pounds to speed up measures to reduce pollution.

Councils in Scotland do not currently have the power to introduce a workplace parking levy. But Labour in Edinburgh wants the Scottish Government to allow such a move, along with the much-debated hotel bed levy.

Labour’s manifesto for the May 4 elections also pledges to build ten new primary schools, two new high schools and eight health and social care centres, as well as increased spending on roads and pavements and increased recycling.

Council leader Andrew Burns said despite budget cuts, including £27 million this year alone, the Labour-SNP coalition in Edinburgh had protected frontline services and invested in key areas.

“We have delivered a new Portobello High School, a refurbished James Gillespie’s High School and we are about to open in August the brand new Boroughmuir High School. During the course of this administration there has been over £600m invested in housing, generating over 7000 jobs and providing apprenticeships and work placements.”

And he contrasted that with seven primary schools closed during the previous Liberal Democrat-SNP administration. “We opposed all those closures tooth and nail.”

The manifesto promises new primary schools at St John’s, Portobello; Morningside; St Crispin’s; Broomhills; Gilmerton Station Road; Leith Waterfront; Granton Waterfront; Maybury; Brunstane; and Queensferry and new High Schools for Castlebrae and West Edinburgh.

It also pledges an increase in the number of classroom assistants and to ensure safe standards are met through “rigorous inspection” of new and existing school buildings.

The Scottish Government has floated the possibility of workplace parking levies in its climate change strategy.

But at the moment Nottingham is the only city in the UK to operate such a levy.

Cllr Burns said it appeared to have worked well. “Nottingham has used the money from the levy to invest back into public transport. It has the potential, a bit like the tourist tax, to raise finances which are then ring fenced to go back into that area. English local authorities have the ability to do it, but we don’t.

“Many other cities in Scotland would consider it and it would alleviate pressure on other frontline budgets.”

In Nottingham, firms with more than ten parking spaces have to pay £375 per space each year. It is up to employers whether they pass on the costs to staff.

The levy was introduced in 2012 and brings in around £9m a year. The money financed an extension to Nottingham’s tram network, which opened last year, and a revamp of the town’s railway station as a hub for buses, trams and trains.

And it does not appear to have been politically damaging - the Labour administration in Nottingham has been re-elected with an increased number of seats since the charge was brought in.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com