Businesses to face levy on parking

Businesses could be charged for every parking space available to staff
Businesses could be charged for every parking space available to staff
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Businesses would be charged for parking spaces they provide to their staff under proposals being considered by the Labour Party.

The Labour group in Edinburgh, which is currently the second-largest party in the City Chambers, would look into the possibility of a “workplace parking levy” to raise money for transport improvements and reduce congestion if it came into power after May’s local elections.

Nottingham is the only city in the UK to have such a levy in place already and it charges £288 to businesses for every parking space they make available for staff, which will raise £100 million in a decade.

But road users have branded the proposal a “tax on work” and urged politicians not to pursue the plans.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the transport spokeswoman for the Labour group on the council, said: “We would like to look at places like Nottingham, where they have done it and where the revenue goes direct to transport projects. We won’t consider it at this moment but it is an idea that we will consider further down the line.

“I’m a great believer in learning from other cities and rather than just announcing something it is worth learning first about how it has worked elsewhere. It is about looking at other options of where resources can come from. In the next few years it will be very difficult to have any capital and you need to look at other ways of raising money.”

The idea is to be considered after being raised at a consultation meeting held by the party ahead of publication of its manifesto for the local elections.

However, a study by motoring group the AA found that 84 per cent of people believed that such a parking levy is another way of taxing work.

A spokesman for the AA said: “It is perceived by businesses and commuters as a tax on work because it targets people who are trying to earn an honest wage but having to use the car because public transport is not always feasible.

“Although Edinburgh has a very good transport system, to get flexibility in the 21st century, the car offers the best way of doing it.

“To force companies to pay for their parking spaces undermines their ability for them to get back on their feet at a time of economic recession – so this is not only discriminating against the motorist but it is also the wrong time.”

The previous Labour administration, which controlled the council until 2007, had looked into the introduction of a congestion charge but the proposal was rejected in a 2005 referendum.

Councillor Allan Jackson, transport spokesman for the Tory group on the council, said: “I do not think there is harm in looking at this but my concern would be that there may be overflow parking on residential streets, which is already a problem in some areas of the city.”