The workplace parking levy, a Green Party initiative that would allow local authorities to tax workplace parking spaces, has been passed as part of the Transport (Scotland) Bill, despite gaining the support of just 56 of the 129 MSPs, in return for Green support for the budget. Opponents have branded it “the poll tax on wheels” and point out that it is both a regressive charge and one which has the potential to tax private land twice: once through business rates and again through the parking levy. While NHS workers are exempt, other employees could find themselves facing bills of close to £500 a year, if the example of Nottingham – the only local authority in the UK that has adopted the scheme – is followed. The thing is, many Scots would happily abandon their cars for viable alternatives. With a bit of thought, consultation and planning, measures to reduce congestion and pollution could have been presented as a triumph for Scottish environmentalism, rather than pushed through as an anti-democratic punishment for employees forced to commute. Had Alex Salmond’s government put the environment at the heart of its administration in 2007, an overarching vision could have been devised. Key to this would have been a smart, integrated, 21st-century public transport system. If everyone in the country was asked to come up with a solution that cut their use of petrol and diesel cars by, say, one third, I expect a considerably more radical environmental policy could have been introduced relatively painlessly, even with a degree of enthusiasm.
Times 13th Oct 2019 read more »