No parking levy before election, says Edinburgh Council’s transport convention

From next month, the Scottish Government will give local authorities the power to enforce workplace parking levies (WPL).

From next month, the Scottish Government will give local authorities the power to enforce workplace parking levies (WPL).

Under the scheme, which has already been rolled-out in some parts of England, drivers who want to park at work would have to pay an annual fee that could amount to hundreds if the cost is not covered by the employer.

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It’s argued that WPLs encourage more people to cycle, walk and use public transport whilst getting to work, reducing pollution and congestion on the roads.

But critics say it taxes businesses and workers at a time when food prices, energy bills and national insurance are all rising, whilst unfairly burdening people who live long distances from work and have no access to public transport.

The introduction of WPLs is included in Edinburgh Council’s ‘2030 City Plan’ and council leader Adam McVey said it’s something currently being explored, adding that he’s spoken to councilors in England “who have implemented the policy successfully and used it to fund additional mass transit investment ”.

Furthermore, depute leader Cammy Day has backed the scheme being put in place in the Capital, despite Labor dropping its support at a national level.

The Conservatives’ Grant Hutchison pressed the council’s transport convenor Lesley Macinnes on the matter, asking her to confirm if the proposed levy will apply to all workplace parking within the city.

Cllr Macinnes said: “This regulation was laid before the Scottish Parliament in January 2022 and will come into force in March 2022.

“There are no plans to progress the WPL business case this side of the election and timelines for further consideration of the WPL will need to be agreed with the new administration.”

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Edinburgh business leader voices fears over workplace parking levy

Councilor Hutchison also asked the depute leader if he is still supportive of workplace parking charges in Edinburgh “in contradiction to his party’s stance”.

Councilor Day replied: “I remain supportive of the WPL as agreed in our Manifesto.”

Questioned if this is the stance of the Labor group on the council, Cllr Day said: “WPL was in our last manifesto and will be considered for inclusion in the manifesto for the forthcoming council elections.”

Conservative group leader Iain Whyte accused the transport convention of making people “pay to park near their home whether they like it or not”.

And he asked council leader Adam McVey what he thinks is an “appropriate charge” that should be levied on individuals “who can’t otherwise get to work without a car”.

Councilor McVey responded by stressing the policy is about addressing climate change.

He said: “This is about the sustainability and future of our city. I know that the Conservatives are trying to work with colleagues within their groups that are skeptical about climate change and other things, we are not, we absolutely recognize it is an issue we have to face into, and aside from the climate change issue which I know the Conservatives are trying to play to a different gallery on, this is fundamentally about this city and how it works and how it works better.

“We cannot sustain with an increase in population and a still continuing trajectory increased population, the same number of people driving in private cars. The road space will not cope with it and to suggest otherwise, I’m sorry is just misleading people.

“We need to come up with more sustainable high-quality public transport options as well as active travel options to best use the space we have to help people get around and businesses have a crucial role in that to make sure they are encouraging people within their own employment to get to work as sustainably as possible.

“Of course there will always be people who need to drive for a variety of reasons and nobody is suggesting otherwise.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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