Local authorities have denied media reports that they are likely to introduce workplace parking levies in the near future.
A recent report in The Daily Telegraph claimed a number of other local authorities were considering schemes to charge employers for providing parking spaces for staff, including Bristol, York, Devon, Hampshire, Leeds, Bournemouth, South Somerset, and Wiltshire.
However, after Fleet News contacted each of these councils, it turns out that many have actually ruled out workplace parking levies (WPL).
Indeed, of those eight councils, only two confirmed that they are actively considering the possibility - Wiltshire and Bristol - but they have no timescale for schemes being introduced.
Gary Hopkins, cabinet member for strategic transport, waste and targeted improvement at Bristol City Council, said: “We are exploring the potential for a workplace parking levy, basing our research on work carried out in other authorities.
“Of these, Nottingham is the furthest ahead. There’s no time-frame as yet, this is early investigative work.”
Allan Clarke, of Wiltshire Council, said it is currently pursuing a new parking strategy and confirmed the introduction of a workplace parking levy is part of this consultation. “It may become an important and necessary tool to reduce traffic growth,” he added.
WPLs allow councils to charge local businesses for every parking space they provide to employees.
The country’s first WPL got the green light last year when Nottingham City Council got approval to introduce a levy in 2012. For forging ahead with the controversial scheme, it received over £500m worth of Government local transport grants.
Businesses in Nottingham will be charged £265 a year for every space they provide in the ground-breaking charge that will raise as much as £14 million a year for the city’s public transport infrastructure development.
Although it is up to individual councils to assess whether they would gain from introducing WPL, if they decide to implement them they must first be submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) for approval.
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A DfT spokesman told Fleet News: “It is for local authorities to consider what measures are appropriate for improving transport and tackling congestion in their area.
“We are looking at how best to ensure the views of local business are represented if a council is considering a workplace parking levy scheme.”
Apart from the Nottingham WPL scheme, which has already been approved, no others have been submitted to the DfT for approval.
What the councils say:
The other councils listed in The Daily Telegraph report were contacted by Fleet News and they confirmed they have no current plants to introduce WPLs
Cllr John Beesley, deputy leader of Bournemouth City Council, said: “A workplace parking levy is not included in our Local Transport Plan and we have no current plans to introduce such a charge.”
He said in a recent public consultation, the option for a WPL had been included, but doubted feedback would show support for the idea.
Hampshire County Council made its position clearer still. Chairman of transport for South Hampshire Cllr Mel Kendal said: “Contrary to media reports, Hampshire County Council is not examining the introduction of a workplace parking levy.
“The Local Transport Plan document which is now out for consultation sets out a transport strategy for the next 20 years and does not include any reference to the Workplace Parking Levy.”
Dawn Haydon, of South Somerset District Council, added: “It’s not something we are actively considering at this particular moment in time and isn’t imminent.”
Spokesmen from York, Devon, Oxfordshire and Leeds local authorities said they had “no current plans” to introduce any form of WPL.
Exclusive research by Fleet News last year found that 11 cities had investigated introducing a WPL. (Fleet News, December 3, 2009).
It revealed that Southampton, Oxford, Bristol, York, Winchester, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham, Newcastle, Exeter, Plymouth and Cambridge had all investigated WPLs in their own cities.
However, Glasgow decided not to progress its plans, Plymouth approached the DfT for funding but abandoned its plans after its bid for Transport Innovation Fund funding was rejected and Cambridge said it was now planning to introduce a local congestion charge instead.
Meanwhile, Newcastle said it was “too early to confirm whether such as scheme would ever be introduced” in the city, whereas Southampton said it would remain under review.
Stoke-on-Trent had ruled it out, Birmingham had rejected it because of the impact it would have on local businesses and Winchester City Council said it had no plans in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for York City Council said it would not introduce a WPL imminently but “this does not preclude such a levy being raised in the future”.