Birmingham City Council is examining the possibility of a Workplace Parking Levy in an attempt to reduce traffic and parking congestion in the UK’s second city.

Council transport officials are currently studying the impact of a WPL introduced in Nottingham in 2010 – which sees companies with more than 11 car parking spaces charged £379 per parking space per year – which used revenue to build new tram lines.

Speaking to BusinessCar, Birmingham’s transport committee chairman Victoria Quinn said she is interested in gathering evidence to see if the scheme would work in the Midlands city.
Should a WPL go ahead, Quinn told BusinessCar it would take between five and seven years to introduce due to the size of Birmingham and various red-tape hurdles, including the fact that the city has fewer powers than many London boroughs.

Quinn added that “Birmingham needs to know” where businesses park and travel to, in order to consider the viability of a WPL, claiming that 96% of vehicles based in the city are parked at any one time. She added that the city will talk to Nottingham in the near future to learn more about how its scheme works.

“It is really right for our committee to look into new transport ideas for the city,” she added. One proposal that has now been shelved is a congestion charge, first mooted in 2013.

“There are no plans for a workplace parking levy. However it is one of the initiatives we are going to be looking at. We will be talking to Nottingham,” Phil Edwards, head of growth and transportation at Birmingham City Council told the committee meeting.

Edwards refused to comment any further when contacted by BusinessCar, citing “purdah” – a time period preventing central and local Governments from making announcements about new initiatives between the announced election and election results.

The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce spoke out against the idea of a WPL. “While the Chamber of Commerce understands that congestion is a problem in Greater Birmingham, we would not support the introduction of a parking levy, given it would create an additional cost to business,” Stephanie Wall, the organisation’s senior policy and patron advisor, told BusinessCar.

“In addition, there is no evidence to suggest that a levy fulfils its purpose of reducing congestion. Two years after the introduction of the WPL in Nottingham, there was no evidence to demonstrate that traffic congestion had actually been reduced. The WPL has, however, raised a significant funding stream for the local authority, which would highlight that the WPL is simply yet another means of raising business tax.”

Meanwhile, Cambridge will publish an analysis of a number of congestion-busting methods in June – including a WPL – proposed during a call for evidence last year.

Speaking to BusinessCar, Tanya Sheridan, programme director of the Greater Cambridge City Deal, suggested that should a WPL be given a green light, it would “take a number of years” to implement.