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Local authorities forced to introduce a workplace parking levy in attempts to raise money

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A number of local authorities are actively examining introducing the charge in an attempt to raise funds.

According to a report from The Daily Telegraph, the councils considering the scheme include councils in Bristol, York, Devon, Hampshire, Leeds, Bournemouth, South Somerset and Wiltshire.

The newspaper also reported that in London, a number of councils are to attend a seminar next month that has a workplace parking levy on the agenda. Authorities in Milton Keynes, Cambridge and Oxford have all previously expressed an interest.

Last August the then Labour Government confirmed UK's first workplace parking levy would come into effect in Nottingham in 2012, meaning employees will have to pay up to £350 per year to ensure a space.

Under the scheme any company with 11 or more parking spaces will be charged £250 per year for each - rising to a potential £350 within two years. Employers can choose to pay this themselves or pass it onto their staff. In Nottingham alone 40,000 commuters could be affected.

In his blog, Richard George, roads and climate campaigner at The Campaign for Better Transport, said: "There are two really good things about the WPL programme. The first is obvious: the council needs to put forward the right scheme for their area, because otherwise they'll get voted out at the next election. That's how Nottingham City Council got their parking levy - by persuading people it was the right thing for Nottingham.

"Secondly, in the midst of a recession where every service is at risk of being cut, parking levies generate a new, ring-fenced revenue stream to fund otherwise unaffordable improvements..

"What this should do is spark is a debate about what sort of transport people want, and how they want to fund it. Councils should be considering parking levies, even if only to dismiss them, because there are so few funding options.

"In many cases, it will be workplace parking levy or no public transport improvements for years to come. If so, councils have a duty to explain that to their constituents, and let them decide whether the best thing for their area is to have improved public transport or a small number of businesses providing free parking to their staff."

But the Forum of Private Business is deeply opposed to the scheme and believes it will provoke fury among business owners, who could be forced to pay tens of thousands of pounds each year simply for providing their employees with somewhere to park their cars.
 
Forum spokesman Chris Gorman said: "When the Nottingham WPL scheme was given the go-ahead last year, we said at the time that it would only be a matter of time before it spread to other towns and cities. Sadly, it appears those fears will soon be realised.
 
"In our view, and in the view of our members, it’s simply a stealth tax which will have a disproportionate impact on small businesses. It’s the equivalent of charging homeowners to park on their own driveways and will increase parking problems in town centres and cities.
 
"Businesses already contribute enormous amounts to public services through existing taxes such as business rates. Whatever its supposed justifications, the danger is that the WPL could open the floodgates to a raft of new taxes and charges being levied onto companies to pay for things which were previously paid for through general taxation.
 
"And while councils’ finances are under pressure, this is a very short-sighted idea as companies are likely to avoid areas with a WPL scheme in operation, meaning jobs, investment and therefore tax revenue will end up elsewhere."

"This proposal comes as small businesses are battling with economic uncertainty, public spending cuts and worrying levels of inflation.
 
"We would urge any businesses whose local authorities are considering implementing a WPL scheme to oppose it in every way they can."