Are politicians really ending the war on the motorist or opening up other fronts (as one commentator has suggested)?
Today comes news that several other councils look set to follow the path being trod by Nottingham and introduce a workplace parking levy with companies being charged up to £250 a year for every employee parking space they have. In these difficult financial times the assumption is that this fee will be simply passed on to workers.
The Daily Telegraph names Bristol, York, Devon, Hampshire, Leeds, Bournemouth, South Somerset and Wiltshire as areas where the scheme could soon be in place. Councils have had the powers to introduce the levy since the 2000 Transport Bill was enacted.
This was the same piece of legislation which enabled local congestion charging schemes. In ten years though, Nottingham is the only place where the work place levy has come anywhere near introduction. As it stands the city will charge those employers with eleven or more parking spaces from 2012.
The 2000 Act was quite clear about the purpose of the powers however. They are to help alleviate congestion and tackle greenhouse gas emissions, with any surplus funds allowed to be spent on local transport provision. The powers are not there to bail out cash strapped councils finding it difficult to balance the books across the range of services they provide.
Which is why the country’s 34 million motorists will be slightly surprised so many authorities are now considering going down this route. Congestion generally falls at times of economic pain, as people drive less. So why the sudden interest in the levy?