01 April 2012

Less money from parking levy

Nottingham City Council is to pioneer a scheme from tomorrow which sees businesses in the city centre be charged a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) for offering parking spaces to its employees. Most have opted to either remove parking provision altogether or to pass the cost onto their workforce. The money generated, reported to be £10 million, would go towards improving public transport in the city, with the extension of the Nottingham Express Transit tram system being one of the main beneficiaries.

We love our cars, as last week's hysteria at the pumps showed, so workers in Nottingham were not pleased at the prospect of being charged an additional fee for parking their cars at work. Now, the City Council has admitted that only £8m is likely to be raised through the WPL as fewer chargeable spaces exist than first thought.

Businesses who offer 11 or more parking spaces are to be charged £288 per space per year, rising to £380 by 2015. A total of 45,500 spaces have been licensed at over 3,000 premises throughout the city, 28,000 of which will be chargeable in full, the rest qualifying for a discount. There are 1,000 fewer spaces than first thought, many of which have been abandoned by companies, keen not to be charged the levy.

Over the 23-year period that the WPL is to run, an average of £14m each year is expected to be raised and the City Council said it still believes it will be able to meet this figure.

I'm not too sure. Some companies are weighing up the advantages of being located within Nottingham City and the financial detriment about to be imposed with the WPL. For those who have 20 or so parking spaces, removing ten of them and thus meeting the maximum number of spaces not to conform has been an option. For others, it is seen as a hike in their business rates - some claim of around a fifth. What if their workforce have shown they don't wish to park their car at work anymore, who can they pass the cost onto?

Additionally, those city centre businesses who don't have enough space to offer more than 10 staff parking spaces, will benefit the most from the WPL through improved public transport yet will be contributing the least.

Not living or working in Nottingham City, I intuitively look more positively on the improvements the WPL will deliver. It will also force modal shift and evidence has suggested that motorists need a decent shove in the right direction, rather than gentle coercion. One thing that both supporters and opponents of the WPL will agree on is that the scheme does give a very large shove to motorist. Whether it's in the right direction or not will remain to be seen.

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