Edinburgh Workplace Parking Levy: Councillors vote to halt work on plans for charge

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Councillors have rejected a Workplace Parking Levy in Edinburgh aid concerns it would hit low-paid workers and lead to increased parking in nearby residential streets.  

The city council's transport committee voted 6-5 to halt work on a potential scheme which estimates suggested could have brought in up to £12 million a year by imposing an annual levy of around £650 per space on parking spaces provided by employers for their staff. It would have been up to the employers to decide whether to pass on the charge to their employees.

Work is to be halted on plans for a workplace parking levy in the Capital.Work is to be halted on plans for a workplace parking levy in the Capital.
Work is to be halted on plans for a workplace parking levy in the Capital.

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Transport convener Scott Arthur said he was not convinced a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) would curb car use. 

He referred to the experience of Nottingham, the only place in the UK to have a WPL.  "The last time I looked, traffic had grown faster in Nottingham than it had in Edinburgh."

He acknowledged it could raise money, but said it would not on its own deal with the issue of congestion and achieve Edinburgh's target of a 30 per cent reduction in car kilometres by 2030.

Cllr Arthur pointed to concerns voiced by trade unions about the impact of a levy on the low-paid and shift workers for whom no public transport was available.  And he argued the prospect of "displaced" parking was a serious issue. "I don't think it's workable right now," he said. 

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The SNP and Greens wanted to continue with work on a WPL.  SNP transport spokesman Danny Aston said he did not think trade union  concerns or displaced parking were insurmountable.  And he criticised Labour for complaining about a lack of funding from the Scottish Government for transport projects while refusing to adopt a WPL so the council could raise money itself.

And Green councillor Jule Bandel agreed: "We keep complaining we don't have any money and then we reject £10-12m of potential revenue."

But the Tories and Lib Dems voted with Labour to ditch the WPL plans.

Tory transport spokeswoman Marie-Clair Munro said the Conservatives had made clear they did not and never would support a WPL. "Any introduction of a WPL would be a hammer blow to hard-working people, especially women, carers, potentially teachers, nurses and low-paid workers, and businesses."

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Lib Dem group leader Kevin Lang said he could not see how the disadvantages could be resolved in time for a WPL to be brought in. And he highlighted displaced parking.  "People can, in many parts of Edinburgh, very very easily avoid paying any charge at all simply by parking on a residential street. What about those areas around big retail centres, where you could see very substantial commuter parking being shifted into residential areas?” He said controlled parking had been suggested as the answer, but that would require another whole consultation.

“The other issue is we have absolutely no guarantee here of any new bus services from this. In many arts of Edinburgh you still do not have proper transport connectivity. If you live at Kirkliston and work at Hermiston Gait there is no direct bus service. If you live in East Craigs and work at Craigleith retail park there is no direct bus service. And there is o guarantee that we’re going to e connecting these things, so we cant guarantee we’re going to provide the alternatives that would encourage them to use public transport.”

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