Fleet News

Road tolls and parking charges not the answer say UK bosses

COMPANY bosses have criticised the Government's strategy of attempting to reduce car dependency through road tolls and workplace parking as unjustifiable and unfair. Conscious of the latest announcement that congestion trials will start in Edinburgh and Leeds towards the end of next year and of the increasing attention being given to the taxation of workplace parking spaces, fleet managers based both in rural and inner city locations have hit out at the inadequacy of public transport and their dissatisfaction at new tax-raising policies without viable alternatives to the company car being provided in return.

The trials in the two cities are being conducted as a likely precursor to road tolls being introduced throughout the country in the 21st century. Meanwhile, a workplace parking tax is a key 'green' initiative in the Government's much-touted integrated transport policy white paper. Chris Hepworth, projects manager at agriculture firm HCL, said as a rural firm his drivers would be hit hard by both measures. 'We are based in a rural location so it is unfair to have to expect us to pay for parking. We are not taking up valuable space in a town, for example, and there is nowhere else for the vehicles to go. 'We also need to do a lot of motorway driving to reach clients,' he said.

Martyn Edwards, company accountant with the Priory Steel Group faces the same dilemma, despite being based in Wolverhampton. 'I travel in from Shropshire and while it's only 22 miles there is no alternative means of travel to work to the car. A tram system has recently been introduced in the city, but it doesn't stop where we want it to,' he said. 'Workplace parking charges are another way of raising money without giving anything in return.'

Incentives are the key to getting motorists out of their cars, according to Tim Mowat, director of Cirencester-based Dolphin Computer Services. 'I don't see that taxation is the solution to the problem of too many people on the roads. There must be incentives, like bus lanes. They are beginning to have an impact in some cities like Oxford where it's faster to travel by bus into the city by car,' said Mowat. On road tolling he suggested the French peage system provided some pointers to a UK solution.

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