Mike Waters' Blog: 29 September 2009 - Paying the price for a space
29 September 2009
Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.
When someone mentions unjust taxation in the Nottingham area you may be forgiven for having visions of the Sheriff of Nottingham taking on Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Unfortunately for businesses and employees based in and around the city centre the much maligned workplace parking levy is not just folk-law and has now been given the go ahead.
Local businesses based in Robin Hood country are vocally opposing the new scheme which means they will have to purchase a licence for their parking spaces. Expected to raise around £14 million a year for public transport improvements, it effectively imposes a tax on working in the city centre.
At £253 per parking space per year from 2012, for smaller companies this is a major expense and for larger ones with more employees it will certainly add up. In fact Boots, one of the city's biggest employers, has threatened to relocate staff car parking at its headquarters across Nottingham's city boundary to avoid paying the fee. and I must say, I have some sympathy with them.
There will also be the option for companies to pass the cost onto their employees, whether they will or not remains to be seen, but its likely that some will. Opponents argue that it will make Nottingham a less attractive city to employers and employees alike as well as adding to street parking problems as commuters look for somewhere outside of the charging zone to park their vehicle.
Taking a balance view, I fully understand the reasons behind the strategy - I'm sure that it will help to reduce congestion as the best way to enforce a change in behaviour is to hit people in the pocket. It will also generate a significant amount of money for infrastructure improvements which is why Milton Keynes, Exeter, Cambridge and Oxford have all expressed interest in the Nottingham scheme.
The problem is that people want fairness and employees in the centre of Nottingham are not going to want to pay a tax that the rest of the country doesn't. What's more, from a corporate point of view, businesses outside of the charging zone will have a competitive advantage over those within it, so they are not operating on a level playing field.
Ally this to the fact that, for those who decide to commute to work as a result, several rail firms are increasing station parking charges by up to 50% creating a situation where drivers are damned if they do and damned if they don't. So for anyone who lives too far away from the office to walk in, or get the bus, this is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.