Derek Mackay happy to strike workplace parking tax deal – John McLellan

Derek Mackay's budget was a capitulation to the Greens. Picture: Jane Barlow
Derek Mackay's budget was a capitulation to the Greens. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Thanks to Transport Minister Michael Matheson, we now know the workplace parking tax in Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s Greens capitulation budget is to be included in a bill without the consultation promised last year.

No employee should be fooled into thinking they would be unaffected if a benevolent boss agreed to cover the cost, because it then becomes a taxable benefit. One way or another, the employee must pay the taxman.

Still Game is featuring heavily in the promotion of the New BBC Scotland channel

Still Game is featuring heavily in the promotion of the New BBC Scotland channel

READ MORE: Workplace parking levy a car crash waiting to happen – Brian Monteith

If the policy goes the way the Greens would like, it will not raise any revenue because no-one will drive to work. Of course it could encourage more people to use the bus, which is fine if you live near a good service. But in Edinburgh, the unintended consequence could be to add pressure to the already over-heating housing market with another disincentive to live further out. Try selling workplace parking tax in South Queensferry.

Mr Mackay has suggested that no-one can blame him for doing the Greens’ bidding if the other opposition parties won’t negotiate with him, but that infers the biggest party in Holyrood is incapable of setting its own course and doing what it thinks is right, like, say, sticking to its manifesto pledges.

READ MORE: Scottish Budget: Mackay’s magic hat is fresh out of rabbits – John McLellan

No party is ready to risk an election just now and had it gone down to the wire accommodations would have been found. The conclusion must be that Mr Mackay was happy to strike a deal with the Greens, and looking at the SNP’s down-grading of economic development in Edinburgh that’s no surprise.

Rules of the game are changing for BBC

Haw, Isa? The Still Game cast is seemingly everywhere as the countdown to the launch of the new BBC Scotland channel on February 24 begins.

With an annual budget of £32 million much is expected of the new service, but there are two very dark clouds looming which could have a significant impact just as it takes to the air.

First are streaming services like Netflix which caused 860,000 people to give up their licence last year and with the rise to £154 in April that number will only grow.

Then as of June 2020 the BBC assumes responsibility for concessionary licences, currently free for over-75s, which will cost £754m out of total income of around £5bn and a public consultation closes on Tuesday. With BBC1 costing £1 billion alone, the Beeb is going to have to tighten a lot more than belts. Haud the £32m lift . . .

Tar very much for the delay

Coal tar for people of a certain age says Wright’s soap, at least until 13 years ago when its use was banned because of fears it could cause cancer. A by-product of old town gasworks, coal tar was widely used for road repairs, but North Sea gas meant production dwindled and by the early 80s it had been replaced by bitumen.

It’s rarely found, but traces were discovered last month during resurfacing on Craigentinny Road and work has been suspended while its removed. Transport managers say there is no risk to the public – limited repurposing is still permitted in England – but the project could now take up to six weeks longer to complete.

Pint of order, landlord

As the city council wrestles with its continuing budget crisis, the authority is looking reduce its estate and make better use of its properties. Some are more obvious than others, like the City Chambers, Waverley Court, schools and community centres, but others less so, like its own boozers. Who knew, when they were knocking back a jar at the Conan Doyle, the Black Bull or the Newsroom at the top of Leith Street, the genial landlord was the cooncil?