Scottish Daily Mail

THE GREAT CAR PARK TAX MYTH

New questions for SNP over parking at work levy as city that first introduced scheme sees traffic fall by LESS than 1pc

- By Alan Shields

A WORKPLACE parking levy in England has seen traffic levels fall by only 0.35 per cent, according to critics of SNP moves to introduce the charge in Scotland.

The Scottish Government followed in the footsteps of Nottingham City Council in passing the controvers­ial Transport Bill at Holyrood last week. The legislatio­n gives Scotland’s local authoritie­s the power to bring in the levy, with councils in Glasgow and Edinburgh the first to consider such action.

Companies with 11 or more spaces could be forced to pay the charge – likely to be set at around £415 per parking space per year – with the option to pass the cost on to staff.

However, a similar scheme in Nottingham is said to have had little effect on reducing the number of vehicles on the roads.

Last night, campaign group the Tax Payers’ Alliance called for the Scottish scheme to be scrapped, branding it a ‘stealth tax’. According to figures collected by the group and seen by the Scottish Daily Mail, Nottingham traffic levels were already in decline before the levy was introduced in 2012.

That year the total traffic count was 368,560 vehicles.

For 2017, the most recent figure available, the total was 367,282 – a fall of just over 1,200 vehicles in five years, or 0.35 per cent.

In this time Nottingham has raked in more than £53million for council coffers, with the money ring-fenced for transport improvemen­ts.

Harry Fone, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘A tax on parking your

Continued from Page One car at work is the last thing struggling Scottish business owners and their employees need.

‘As our research shows, these levies are dreamt up by out-of-touch politician­s as a stealthy way to raise revenue at the expense of taxpayers, with doubts about the real impact on air quality.

‘MSPs and councils should abandon this commuter charge and stop punishing people simply for driving to work.’

Last night, Scottish Conservati­ve climate change spokesman Maurice Golden called for the SNP Government to re-examine the Transport Bill.

‘One of the few redeeming aspects of the levy was the promise of reducing vehicle emissions and increasing public transport use,’ he said.

‘So any analysis that the Nottingham scheme has not had that effect is of great concern. Rather than pushing the car park tax, the SNP need to see sense and re-examine the Bill.’

SNP and Green MSPs were branded ‘out of touch’ after uniting to force through the levy last week, while lavishing £1.6million of taxpayers’ money on limousines and cars. Last night, the Government defended the levy, citing papers sent by Nottingham’s council to the rural economy and connectivi­ty committee in May.

Under the heading ‘initial monitoring’, the papers state: ‘No increase in traffic within the city since the scheme was introduced.’

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: ‘The workplace parking levy will be a discretion­ary power, included in the Transport Bill, that councils can choose to use – it is not mandatory.

‘The levy will also support the delivery of better transport services, with any proceeds invested back directly into the delivery of the transport strategy.’

Earlier this year, Nicola Sturgeon declared a ‘climate emergency’ amid moves to make Scotland a net-zero emissions country.

As well as a workplace parking levy and low emission zones in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee – which are part of the Transport Bill – the First Minister has said she wants to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 03 .

Under the levy proposals for Scotland, exemptions will be given to NHS hospi Scottish tals and buildings, hospices, GP surgeries and disabled parking spaces.

But demands for exemptions for police officers and teachers were rejected.

Business chiefs have warned the levy would ‘inevitably’ be a tax on workers.

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