Coun­cils get pow­ers over work­place park­ing levies

● SNP and Green MSPs unite to pass bill in face of op­po­si­tion

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY TOM PE­TERKIN

Politi­cians last night voted in favour of giv­ing coun­cils the power to in­tro­duce work­place park­ing taxes, de­spite op­po­si­tion at­tempts to over­turn the Scot­tish Govern­ment pro­posal.

The levy was orig­i­nally pro­posed in Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Derek Mackay’s bud­get ear­lier this year, and is part of the Trans­port (Scot­land) Bill.

The con­tro­ver­sial mea­sure is be­ing in­tro­duced af­ter the SNP govern­ment reached a deal with the Scot­tish Greens to agree its bud­get. It will give lo­cal author­i­ties the choice of whether to im­pose the levy but, if they chose to then do so, em­ploy­ers would have to pay an an­nual tax to the coun­cil for ev­ery park­ing space that they pro­vide.

There are fears that this cost could be passed on to staff.

A Scot­tish Labour amend­ment call­ing for the re­moval of the pro­posal from the bill was re­jected by 65 votes to 54 last night.

Labour MSP Neil Bibby de­scribed the tax as a “re­gres­sive” move that would hit the low­est-paid and would make lit­tle im­pact on cli­mate change.

Mr Bibby added that it was “not an op­tion” be­cause pub­lic trans­port in Scot­land was “sim­ply not good enough” to get peo­ple out of their cars.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Michael Mathe­son ac­cused Scot­tish Labour of “hypocrisy” over its op­po­si­tion to the pro­posal, high­light­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of a sim­i­lar scheme at the Labour-run Not­ting­ham City Coun­cil. Mr Mathe­son also said that the pro­posal was a “power, not a duty” for coun­cils.

But the move was crit­i­cised by the Scot­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium, which ar­gued that it would harm busi­nesses.

David Lons­dale, di­rec­tor of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, said: “Work­place park­ing levies areachar­ter­forex­tra cost and com­plex­ity and it is dis­ap­point­ing MSPs are back­ing them. The in­tro­duc­tion of a levy will see firms taxed twice for the park­ing places they pro­vide for staff, on top of the busi­ness rates al­ready paid on those spa­ces.”

Tory MSPs moved a string of amend­ments, aimed at en­sur­ing that work­places such as schools, col­leges, po­lice and fire sta­tions, were ex­empted but these were re­jected.

Aberdeen and Aberdeen­shire coun­cils have said they would not in­tro­duce a levy, ar­gu­ing it would pe­nalise those who lived in ar­eas where car own­er­ship is high.

The SNP leader of Moray Coun­cil, Gra­ham Lead­bit­ter, has ruled out the tax and High­land coun­cil­lors have warned it could be dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment in ru­ral ar­eas.

PARK­ING FEES: Un­der the Trans­port (Scot­land) Bill, coun­cils will be able to in­tro­duce work­place park­ing levies, al­though some lo­cal author­i­ties have al­ready ruled it out

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