‘Tax’ on workplace car parks begins in Nottingham. SurreyCC’s savings could begin on own doorstep.

This is an article in the 1st April edition of the Daily Telegraph, Britain’s first council-imposed workplace parking charge scheme has begun in Nottingham, with firms likely to have to fork out a total of around £8 million in the first year.

Nottingham City Council, which is running the scheme, said it will help fund major transport improvements in the area.

But the AA dubbed the scheme ”a tax on work” which would damage local businesses and employees.

Known officially as a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL), the scheme requires companies in the city of Nottingham to pay an annual fee of £288 for each parking space on offer to employees if more than 10 spaces are provided.

Companies with 10 or fewer places and emergency services do not have to pay any charge but do need to be licensed under the WPL scheme.

So far employees have licensed 45,500 places at more than 3,000 parking premises around the city. It is anticipated that one in three workplace parking places in the city will be covered by the scheme by the end of March 2013.

The money raised has to go on public transport. Schemes that will benefit include Nottingham’s tram service, improvements to the city’s rail station and bus improvements.

Councillor Jane Urquhart, the head of transport and planning on Nottingham City Council, said: ”The WPL provides a vital funding stream. Without it we wouldn’t be having two more tram lines, or indeed the railway station redevelopment, both of which are now under construction.”

She added that WPL was ”helping to slow the likely growth of road traffic congestion while raising money for further investment in our transport infrastructure”.

AA president Edmund King said: ”At a time when drivers are facing record prices at the pumps, further charges for parking at work are the last thing they need.

”This damaging ‘tax on work’ should be stopped from spreading elsewhere as it will damage the economy and hit employees who just can’t afford it.”

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ”The council blames commuters for Nottingham’s congestion, but people travelling in to the city to work make it the prosperous place it is.

”Officials recognise many firms might simply pass the charges on to employees, adding another financial burden on to car owners already facing crippling running costs.

”Businesses and their workers also need to beware of the huge hike in prices already confirmed for the future. The levy will jump 15% next year and be 32% higher within three years.”

From April 1 2013, the charge per space will increase to £334, rising to £364 in April 2014 and to £381 in April 2015.

The Sun wrote an article in August 2011 with the heading, Council chiefs are rewarding staff with free parking – while hiking charges for everyone else. On this subject, the Public Authority Watcher blog wrote:

Nearly 80,000 public sector workers benefit from the perk – worth £112MILLION a year.  At the same time fat cat councils rake in £1.2BILLION a year from soaring charges for parking meters, penalty tickets and residents’ permits. And if councils charged their staff for the parking spaces, it would help to ease crippling budget cuts. Campaigners were furious at figures obtained by The Sun under freedom of information requests to 353 local authorities in England. Surrey County Council topped the list with 1,496 spaces – worth £4.6million a year.