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Growth of workplace parking tax slammed

Date: 23 February 2010   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

Plans for workplace parking taxes are emerging across the UK, with York and Exeter city councils first to follow Nottingham's confirmed scheme by revealing proposals for charging businesses that provide parking for employees.

However, the Forum of Private Business branded the additional tax burden, intended to cut congestion and reduce carbon emissions, as "unfair, unsustainable and unacceptable".

"It is an attempt to tax struggling businesses for employing people at a time when we should be facilitating them to take on staff. Instead we are penalising them," a spokesman told BusinessCar. "It is very much a case of looking for short-term gain at the expense of longer term economic stability."

South West Water, which employs around 500 people in Exeter, said it would have to examine the proposal's implications but would prefer a scheme "encouraging people to use other methods of transport rather than penalising those who have to use their vehicles to provide essential services".

But John Rigby, director of economy and development at Exeter City Council, said a Workplace Parking Levy is an effective way of managing demand, adding that without it, congestion will continue. "It is more effective to charge people who currently pay nothing to park, than to extract money from those who pay parking charges already," Rigby said.

York Chamber of Commerce president Shaun Watt claimed there is "little evidence" that a WPL will reduce congestion in the city, and is worried about the impact on York's long-term prospects. "We are concerned that if the WPL is introduced then we could see new businesses turning away from our city and setting up elsewhere," he said.

In a further development, Conservative leader David Cameron has now said that, despite the party previously opposing such schemes, if it wins this year's general election it will leave it up to local councils to decide whether or not to introduce WPLs, suggesting a lack of resistance to schemes becoming widespread.