Edinburgh car park charge would be a ‘safety risk to police’

Demands are growing for police officers to be exempt from the Capital’s proposed workplace car park tax.

Saturday, 18th May 2019, 8:00 am
A police car. Pic: Ian Georgeson

City council chiefs intend to adopt new laws in the Transport Bill to charge staff up to £500 a year to park at their place of work.

Now Lothian MSP Miles Briggs has waded into the row after the Scottish Police Federation warned of safety fears over officers switching to public transport.

“SNP ministers must give Police Scotland the resources that they need to do their job effectively,” said Mr Briggs.

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“Including Police Scotland in the car park tax will only take away from essential police resources.

“Scottish Conservatives will be bringing forward an amendment to the Transport Bill to exempt public sector employees, such as NHS staff and police officers, from the SNP car park tax.”

The Scottish Police Federation warned last week that services could be cut after learning officers will not get special protection from the levy.

Calum Steele, the body’s general secretary, accused the SNP and Green MSPs of being “blasé” about the safety of officers.

Mr Steele said: “It is difficult to comprehend how any politician could support a proposal that increases risks to the safety and security of police officers.

“The reality of the threat against police officers is real and ought not to be ignored in such a cavalier manner.

“It is simply unforgivable that elected representatives could be so blasé over the safety of officers when they aren’t slow to call for additional policing presence and assistance over the slightest increase in threat to themselves.”

The SPF has previously warned that if the cost of the tax was passed on to officers, it would put them at risk as they would have to travel to work on public transport. Transport and environment convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “We have committed to exploring a Workplace Parking Levy which, along with a range of initiatives including City Centre Transformation and the introduction of Low Emission Zones, would be key to building sustainability and resilience.

“This is still at a very early stage though, and we will of course be undertaking further in-depth research and analysis on the possibilities of a local Workplace Parking Levy, including the structure that would be required to make it work effectively for the clear benefit of the city.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The amendments from the Scottish Greens to the Transport Bill are for a discretionary power for local authorities to introduce a Workplace Parking Levy based on their specific circumstances and requirements.

“In addition to the exemptions already proposed, the provisions enable local authorities to consider further local exemptions and they are also required to consult on the specifics of any scheme prior to implementation.”