Fleet News

Fleets brace themselves for £365 per space per year

COMPANIES could be hit by annual workplace parking charges of £365 per space within a year in some areas as local authorities gear up for the go-ahead to charging from Parliament.

In all, 21 schemes are likely to be introduced over the next few years. Five of them are from local authorities in the Birmingham area, while Greater Manchester has 10. Others include Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes, Nottingham and Cheshire.

Charges in the Birmingham area alone could net £1 billion by charging £1 per space per day, a vast amount of money compared to the Government's current investment in the area's local transport plan of about £50 million.

A further four local authorities, Bristol, Leeds, Durham and Derbyshire, have shown interest in launching road user charging schemes. At least two - Bristol and Leeds - are going to be electronic schemes, where drivers are automatically charged by hi-tech roadside equipment, so they will take until at least 2004 to finish development.

Rules allowing local authorities to introduce both types of charging are currently going through Parliament in the Transport Bill and threaten to hit companies with tens of thousands of pounds in extra costs.

A company with a 600-space car park in the Birmingham area would see its costs rocket by £219,000 a year under the £1 per space per day charge.

Mike Goodwin, head of the Implementation Unit, Charging and Local Transport Division of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions stressed that the Government was not forcing authorities to do anything, because it had passed the decision to councils to decide and insisted that there was time for them to get alternative public transport schemes in place.

'Charging is not compulsory. We are not forcing it on anyone. Money will be ring-fenced for at least 10 years so it can be reinvested in local transport,' he said. 'The rise in traffic is not going to be stopped. The total number of cars will rise from 27 million now to about 33 million in 2012. There is going to be a lot more traffic on the roads and a lot more congestion, so there will have to be compromises made.'

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