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Councils lack appetite for parking plan

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Councils across the country have denied any intention to follow Nottingham’s lead and introduce a workplace parking levy.

The denials follow an assertive – yet apparently misleading – claim by environmentalist Don Potts at this year’s ACFO conference that “most local authorities are looking to do this”.

However, Nottingham City Council officials told Fleet News that a number of local authorities have been keen to learn more about its scheme.

They said they had been contacted by Bristol, Milton Keynes, Exeter, Cambridge and Oxford, while York, Devon, Hampshire, Leeds, Bournemouth, South Somerset and Wiltshire had “expressed an interest”.

After contact by Fleet News, most of these coumcils downplayed their interest in parking levies. However, Bristol looks the most likely to follow Nottingham after the city council revealed it has been in talks with business leaders and representatives over potential plans.

The authority stressed the charge would not come into force for several years if the proposals are given the green light. Any income from the scheme would be invested in a bendy bus system for the city.

Tim Kent, the city councillor in charge of transport, said: “At the moment, we don’t know where the boundaries for the levy would fall and which spaces would be exempt.”
He admitted he didn’t know how many private workplace parking spaces were in the city centre area.

“The purposes of the scheme are to cut congestion and fund the rapid transit scheme,” explained Kent. Up to £2.3 million a year could be raised through the tax.

Due to Government funding cuts, the level of cash which will need to be found locally to help pay for transport schemes in the Bristol area has risen from an estimated £55 million to £111 million, although final costs will not be known until the autumn.

A proposal is expected to be presented to the city council’s cabinet on September 1.

In Nottingham, businesses that provide 11 or more car parking spaces for their staff will have to stump up £279 per space per year when the scheme comes into force in April 2012.

Workplace parking levy licences will be issued to an estimated 3,500 employers from July covering approximately 38,000 parking spaces.

Nottingham City Council expects the scheme to generate around £14 million per year.

Meanwhile, councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, denied the council had examined the scheme in Nottingham in any detail.

“Our local transport plan sets out a transport strategy for the next 20 years and does not include any reference to a workplace parking levy,” said Kendal.

Oxford, South Somerset, Bournemouth, Leeds, Southampton, Devon, Milton Keynes and York have also said that they have no plans to introduce a scheme.

Meanwhile, Wiltshire is still weighing up the merits of a levy on workplace parking spaces, but said “no decisions have been made whether a parking levy will be introduced or not”.

Newcastle has no plans “at this stage”, but conceded that it may consider a scheme among other measures as a means of managing traffic to reduce carbon emissions and tackling congestion.

And while Liverpool admitted a workplace parking levy was briefly discussed as part of its transport plan, it said “it was never considered in any real detail and is not included within the city council’s current transport strategy”.

Court threat issued to employers

Employers who breach the workplace parking levy in Nottingham could face being fined or even end up in court.

Registering false details or blocking council officers will be a criminal matter, but not having a licence will be a civil offence, companies have been told.
Other civil offences will include not having enough licences or not complying with their full conditions.

These breaches will be punishable with penalty charge notices. Criminal offences will be dealt with by the courts and will be examined by the police for possible fraud.

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