Workplace parking levy: Retail chiefs want 'safeguards' if councils bring in charge

Retail chiefs are calling for “safeguards” to apply if councils bring in controversial workplace parking charges.

The Scottish Retail Consortium made the plea after the Scottish Government issued guidance to local authorities on the introduction of workplace parking levies.

But David Londsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said if there could not be a “pause” in the policy to help businesses still recovering from the Covid pandemic, there should be some safeguards.

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Edinburgh council votes to carry on with plans for workplace parking levy
The workplace parking levy has been billed as a means to reduce the number of car journeys in Scotland. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

These, he suggested, could include a cap on the amount that councils can charge firms that provide parking spaces at work for their staff, as well as having “consistency” among councils that bring in the charge and a “sunset provision” to limit how long they apply for.

It comes after Edinburgh City Council on Thursday agreed its exploration of the charge, with a view to introducing a levy.

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Mr Lonsdale said: “Workplace parking levies are a charter for extra cost and complexity. It would see firms taxed twice for the parking places they provide for staff, on top of the business rates already paid on those spaces.

“In the absence of a pause on their implementation to aid the recovery then safeguards should apply – including a cap on the amount that can be charged, a sunset provision as is the case with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), and consistency amongst councils implementing any levy.”

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Guidance published by the Scottish Government this week gives local authorities the power to decide “key elements” of any workplace parking levy that is introduced, including the area in which it would apply, the amount of the charge and on local exemptions.

However, parking places reserved for Blue Badge holders would be exempt from any schemes, as well as parking places at hospices and certain parking places at NHS sites.

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And councils that want to introduce a workplace parking levy would first have to carry out a consultation and impact assessment.

Speaking on Thursday, transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: “The workplace parking levy is a key tool which empowers local councils in encouraging people out of their cars and on to more sustainable modes of transport.

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“This is vitally important if we are to reach a 20 per cent reduction in car kilometres by 2030.”