Controversial plans for a workplace parking levy in Scotland were first put forward by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay during crunch budget talks with the Greens, it has emerged.
Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie says he was happy to accept the proposal as part of a tranche of concessions secured by his party to hand greater powers to local councils in Scotland.
The prospect of Scots being charged up to £500 a year to park at work has prompted a backlash from the opposition and motoring organisations. It was widely viewed to have been a government concession to a Greens demand, but Harvie revealed it was Mackay who suggested the idea during talks.
“Our basic principle on that was after 20 years of devolution, it’s time to start rolling power back to local government – spreading and sharing some of the power that’s in Holyrood around the country so that local communities can have it,” Harvie told Scotland on Sunday at the party’s spring conference in Edinburgh yesterday.
“So Derek Mackay suggested that the workplace parking levy should be on the table under that heading of re-empowering local government, so we said yes.”
He added: “Our key principle was let’s start re-empowering local government. Let’s put some fiscal powers out there, and the suggestion was that workplace parking would be up there – so we said yes to it.”
The plan will see powers handed to each of Scotland’s 32 councils to implement a tax on workplace parking slots if they choose. City leaders in Edinburgh have indicated they will adopt the proposal.
“Labour stood for election in Glasgow and Edinburgh saying they would do exactly the same thing – there’s a lot of hypocrisy around on that,” Harvie added.
A spokesman for Mackay said: “The Workplace Parking Levy is expected to be introduced as a Green Party amendment by John Finnie to the Transport (Scotland) Bill at Stage Two.”