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Leicester City Council said they are “considering” the introduction of a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) which would tax drivers for parking their cars outside their office. The new tax could provide the council with millions of pounds per year which would be used to pay for improvements to public transport.
However, the scheme has been attacked by Liberal Democrat city councillor Nigel porter who claims the decision is an “even worse one” in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said changes in working environments and more people staying at home means there will be fewer parking spaces to tax.
Mr Porter said: “I wasn’t convinced this levy was a good idea when the council first suggested it and I think it is an even worse one now.
“Covid has changed our city centres, more people are successfully working from home rather than commuting to offices.
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“Companies will let their offices go rather than keep unnecessary overheads like rent and rates and that will mean fewer work parking spaces to tax because there will be fewer work car parking places to tax.
“It only works in Nottingham because they have a tram system. Leicester’s plan never had any such ambition. It only wants buses.”
The new tax would be charged to the employer instead of employees however firms can pass the charge onto their staff if they wish.
Leicester City Council has not confirmed how expensive WPL charges would be but this would likely follow a similar route to Nottingham which is the only city in the UK with a scheme already in place.
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The charge there is currently £415 per parking space per year which has generated £64million in revenue since 2012.
Mr Porter added: “The analogy I use is the council is waiting to cross the road, it looks left and right, see a car coming and steps out anyway.
“By pursuing this it will be ignoring the obvious and showing again that it cannot be nimble.”
Leicester City Council is planning a formal consultation on the city’s future transport schemes in March and April which will decide the future of the WPL charge.
The Council said there is a range of benefits to introducing a WPL charge including reducing congestion and improving air quality in the city.
They say employers who pay the charge will have an incentive to reduce their levels of workplace parking in the future.
This would encourage employees to use sustainable forms of transport around the city.
The Council said they will continue talking to business groups and organisations on their views of a WPL scheme.
They have hinted that exemptions and discounts may be offered under some circumstances.
Labour deputy mayor councillor Adam Clarke said it was too early to suggest a WPL scheme would not be available once people started returning to work.
He said: “Of course the impact of Covid will be reflected on what we finally put to the public to show the benefit or otherwise of introducing the levy.
“We do know that there are businesses who are really keen to have quality city centre office space and that there was, pre-covid, an undersupply of office space.
“Things will change from the current position but whether things will change so radically that make a workplace parking levy unviable?
“There is no evidence to suggest that yet and if the levy can achieve what we think it will still then why would we not continue to investigate its potential.”
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