Drivers to face workplace car parking charges?

"War on motorists" may be far from over as councils consider new revenue streams

by Simon_MacMichael   August 23, 2010  

Free Parking sculpture (photo credit Jamie_Wikimedia Commons).

People driving to work in some parts of Britain could soon face having to pay to park their cars at their place of work, according to press reports. The news could help encourage some to give up four wheels for two as they take to bicycles to save money on their commute.

Two of the local authorities that are reported to be considering introducing a levy on employers providing more than 11 car parking spaces are York and Bristol, both of which enjoy Cycling City status.

Proposals for the implementation of the levy, which would see employers charged £250 for each parking space provided, with the option of absorbing that cost themselves or passing it onto their employees, were thought to have receded once the coalition government came to power and promised an end to the so-called “war on motorists.”

However, faced with massive budget cuts, many councils are now reported to be considering implementing the measure, according to the Daily Telegraph, including Bournemouth, Devon, Hampshire, Leeds, South Somerset and Wiltshire.

With more than 10 million people estimated to drive to work each day – although many of those of course will work for employers that either offer no parking or that have too little provision to be subject to the proposed rules – the revenue raised could help councils offset the impact of budget cuts, with Bristol City Council said to be exploring using such a charge as a “revenue stream” to help fund other transport initiatives.

Nottingham City Council is expected to be the first council to introduce the levy, while Hampshire County Council, in a consultation document, raised the prospect of implementing staff parking charges in the south of the county, an area including Southampton and Portsmouth, to "redress the imbalance between free commuter parking for some staff at office complexes" and "parking for other staff in public spaces where payment is required".

South Somerset District Council is another that is looking at bringing in parking charges, with a spokesman saying: "Looking at reducing car travel to offices is something we are required to do, and the possibility of introducing some form of parking levy is one of many ideas that have been floated within our council."

Meanwhile, next month councils in London will be attending a seminar that has an agenda including the workplace parking levy on the agenda, and other local authorities, including Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes, are all said to be interested in exploring parking charges.

Hilary Holden, a transport analyst at the consultancy Arup, which is helping a number of local authorities draw up plans for how such a scheme might work in practice, told the Daily Telegraph: "This will be the way forward. The squeeze on councils’ finances will put workplace parking levies way up the agenda."

She continued: "Based on Nottingham it would probably work out at about £1 a day. Whether companies would pass the cost on to their staff may vary. This may not change behaviour but could raise money for public transport."

A spokesman for the AA insisted: "Far from ending the war on the motorist, it now looks like town halls are going to open another front," while David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, claimed: "This is the worst possible time for it to be introduced as we are trying to get businesses to grow all over the country."

Some are in favour of the move, however. Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, told the newspaper: “We support any move on a workplace parking levy, but it needs to be part of a broader strategy with the money linked to alternatives to the car, such as in Nottingham where the money is going into a local tram scheme.”

Others said that in the current environment, local authorities had few options when it came to exploring new revenue streams and that drivers represented a natural target. “Councils are going to look at that kind of a thing as an option,” explained Caroline Green, a policy consultant at the Local Government Association. “Traditional forms of money raising will not be sufficient,” she added.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “It is for local authorities to consider what measures are appropriate for improving transport and tackling congestion in their area.”

9 user comments

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Honestly - not gonna make the blindest bit of difference for the better unless the funds raised are ring-fenced for better transport policies rather than just used to plug shortfalls in town hall funding.

posted by mad_scot_rider [538 posts]
23rd August 2010 - 13:44

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Of course the funds raised will be used to plug shortfalls in council budgets. I'm curious how much I'd be charged for parking my motorbike in the company carpark. I rarely if ever drive to the office - it's either bicycle and train or motorbike for me, both of which are faster and cheaper than taking the car.


posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
23rd August 2010 - 13:49

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This just makes me angry! I use my car to get to work every day and I used to work for the type of company that WOULD pass on the cost to those of us who drove! So basically since I am no way going to go on dirty smelly public transport and the journey was 12 miles with no shower or anything it would actually just be a tax on me!

posted by David French [49 posts]
23rd August 2010 - 19:26

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Hold your horses folks, this is typical sh!t-stirring journalism from the usual suspects, eg the type of paper who will print stories about the 'war on motorists' with a straight face. It's not going to happen tomorrow or at the drop of a hat.

The article mentions Devon County Council. That's because Devon CC's LTP (Local Transport Plan) includes the possibility of a workplace levy. Note the use of the work 'possibility'. To turn this from theoretical possibility into practice would require a whole load of work which hasn't been done, and nor is there any sign that it's about to be done. Not to mention that it would require significant political support from the councillors. And I suspect that is unlikely to be forthcoming.

So don't panic.

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posted by Chuffy [183 posts]
23rd August 2010 - 19:40

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hhmmm may help me at home (local business staff park
where ever they like blocking the residents access etc),
but work ... I live in Bristol and work in Swindon - not
a cycle commute at my age !!!

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [682 posts]
24th August 2010 - 8:04

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David French wrote:
So basically since I am no way going to go on dirty smelly public transport

ah well in that case we should shower you with money to pay these proposterous fees, because your obviously better than the rest of us and one must park ones audi as close to the office as possible so all the 'office totty' can see.

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posted by STATO [410 posts]
24th August 2010 - 8:15

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Where I work this has been the practice always. Still, some people drive their Audis, Mercs, etc, etc to work, but when your salary is on 6 or 7 figures, what's a few hundred pounds a month?

Personally, I don't agree with this practice. I don't agree with having to pay for parking space in your own work place. It's a bit harsh.

Of course, we - cyclists - don't pay anything, and I don't know where the money for the shower and parking facilities came from!

And I hate the "war on motorists" phrase. There was never a war on anybody, just some common sense for the better good.

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

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posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
24th August 2010 - 8:55

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David French wrote:
So basically since I am no way going to go on dirty smelly public transport

I once took a bus in Wythenshawe that would meet that description, but the trains I've used since 2000 or so have been excellent, for the most part.

I wouldn't tar you with this particular brush, of course, but colleagues who complain about late & dirty public transport have often never used it, or used it only in the late '70s, or thereabouts.

...and the journey was 12 miles with no shower or anything it would actually just be a tax on me!

The bike bit of my commute is 14 miles in, and 13 and change back. Eminently do-able (apart from in the ice), and I'm not the quickest, or fittest cyclist by any means. A spritz with deodorant before I leave and when I get in is sufficient for me.

I'd genuinely love a 12 mile commute, it would save me a fair whack on season tickets for the train part of my journey.

Ahem. Digressions aside, I'd be interested to know what other methods the panel would use for cutting traffic in cities?

"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

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posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
24th August 2010 - 10:56

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I work in an office of 40 on a business park, out on the edge of a town so surrounded by fields. We get allocated 9 spaces (local council legislations saying thats the max). Already we have cars parked all over the place and alongside the other offices there are so many cars its stupid (typically all parked on cycle path). If we built a car park with enough spaces for everyone then all the fields i can see from my window would be tarmac, that'd look GREAT wouldnt it?

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posted by STATO [410 posts]
24th August 2010 - 11:11

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