Unite the union has written to all Council Leaders representing Scotland’s thirty-two local authorities calling on them to rule out implementing the workplace parking levy which they claim is ‘regressive’.
Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, also requested that all Scottish local authorities oppose the devolution of the levy following a lack of consultation with all key stakeholders other than the Scottish Green Party.
Pat Rafferty said:
“Unite has written to all Council Leaders in Scotland requesting that they formally rule out the introduction of the regressive workplace parking levy, which has been imposed on them by the Scottish Government. Unite is highly critical of the devolution of this policy which seems to have occurred without any consultation except through private negotiations with the Scottish Green Party.”
“The ability for councils to set a workplace levy through car parking spaces is a desperate attempt to absolve the government from the funding crisis they have presided over. If implemented, we would have the ludicrous situation where we would have local authorities taxing workers for turning up to work. This would remove the pay increase that workers are currently fighting for off of them in an instance. We believe that the Scottish Government should be facilitating public ownership of the nation’s buses and rail network, which would be a far better way to reduce car journeys through the provision of regular and affordable travel in Scotland.”
Several campaigning groups in Scotland urged political leaders to support the workplace car park tax including: Friends of the Earth Scotland, WWF Scotland, Sustrans, and Living Streets.
Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said:
“Workplace parking levies have a track record of delivering significant changes to travel habits, bringing much needed investment to transport infrastructure, and creating healthier places to live and work. It is an optional power being offered to councils. It won’t be right for every area, but to combat congestion and air pollution in our city centres, it is an important tool for councils to have available to them.
“12 organisations have written to the 5 party leaders to encourage them to consider the evidence. There is broad support for this policy, from people concerned about air quality to those who want to see concerted investment in public transport.”
There are streets in Scotland’s cities which are way above the legal limits for Nitrogen Dioxide air pollution (Friends of the Earth Scotland) which is a serious public health issue.
- Hope Street Glasgow
- Queensferry Road, Edinburgh
- Nicolson Street, Edinburgh
- St John’s Road Edinburgh
- Seagate Dundee
- Lochee Road Dundee
Stuart Hay, Director of Living Streets Scotland said:
“Scotland needs to get smarter in how it funds vital infrastructure improvements for buses, cycling and walking. The Workplace Parking levy is a fair way of supporting action to cut chronic congestion and unacceptable levels of air pollution in our cities. A modest charge can give workers with cars alternative commuting options and make companies think more seriously about transport requirements and office location.”
The letter from Unite to all Council Leaders states the following:
“Dear Council Leader,
On behalf of Unite’s membership in both the public and private sectors, I am writing to convey our opposition on the possibility of workplace parking levies being introduced following the Scottish Government’s recent budget announcement.
Unite has been at the forefront of campaigning for greater funding of our public services. We continue to publically state that central government should be doing more to support discretionary and in particular, non-discretionary spending by local authorities. It is estimated that the Scottish Government’s budget continues to underfund our public services by an estimated £100m.
In this context, the Scottish Government have attempted to place greater financial burdens and constraints on local authorities which is epitomised by this potential measure. However, workplace parking levies are a regressive tax. The implementation of the measure will exacerbate the pay crisis affecting local authority workers, which Unite is currently in dispute with COSLA on, as you are well aware.
All workers should be exempt by all local authorities ruling out this measure. The only local authority in England which operates the levy is run by Nottingham City Council, which charges employers with more than ten parking spaces £415 a year for each one under a licensing scheme. The Herald newspaper reported that if employers pass on the cost to workers, VAT is added and the final costs rises to £498. Therefore, we are asking that your Council not only refuse to implement the levy but also join Unite in calling for the Scottish Government to remove the devolution of this policy to all local authorities. The policy was announced through no consultation other than with the Scottish Green Party. As such, I would be grateful if you can confirm that your Council will rule out this measure and add your support to Unite’s position.”
The Letter in Support of Workplace parking level can be viewed here: Workplace Parking Levy Letter to Party Leaders