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Clancy’s watch my lips moment: ‘No workplace parking levy in Birmingham’

Clancy’s watch my lips moment: ‘No workplace parking levy in Birmingham’

🕔25.Apr 2016

Birmingham city council leader John Clancy has made it clear he will not introduce congestion charging of any type, and has rejected completely a workplace parking levy.

He was speaking after business leaders claimed local authority officials were investigating a parking levy that could cost employers thousands of pounds a year.

Cllr Clancy has several times ruled out any form of congestion charging, but the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce today published a news release claiming that council officials are examining a scheme in Nottingham where every business employing more than 11 people has to pay £375 a year for each parking spot it has.

The chamber describes workplace levies as “another form of business tax” and says there is no evidence that such schemes reduce congestion where they have been implemented.

Cllr Clancy told Chamberlain Files today there was no truth in the suggestion that the council was preparing to introduce a workplace parking levy. Asked if it might be introduced at some time in the future, he replied:

No, it won’t.

The Chamber news release appears to be based on a Birmingham Mail article published on April 12 which quotes a Birmingham council transport official, Phillip Edwards, who said the Nottingham scheme was being examined, but there were no plans at the moment to introduce it in Birmingham.

The Mail’s online poll asking readers whether a workplace parking levy is a good idea is running at 72 per cent no and 28 per cent yes.

Cllr Victoria Quinn, chair of the city council transport scrutiny committee, is said to be pushing for a workplace parking levy to address Birmingham’s chronic congestion problem, claiming that the Nottingham scheme is a “fantastic initiative” and is “very popular” in the city.

The Chamber’s surprising intervention 11 days before voters go to the polls to elect Birmingham city councillors may reignite the congestion charge issue that has been smouldering since Cllr Clancy became council leader last December.

The 2016-17 draft council budget, which he inherited from former council leader Sir Albert Bore, proposed a congestion charge for vehicles entering the city centre. Cllr Clancy insisted he would scrap the plan, although vehicles failing to meet modern emissions standards will be charged for entering a clean air zone.

Cllr Clancy and his cabinet are under no obligation to adopt proposals floated by a scrutiny committee and it is now clear the workplace parking levy will not get off the ground.

Proposals for a similar levy and a congestion charge were floated by the Labour-led council in the early 2000s, but rejected following protests from the business community.

Cash raised in Nottingham from the workplace parking levy is being used to extend the city’s tram system, improve the main railway station and provide better bus services. The levy raises about £9 million a year.

Stephanie Wall, senior policy adviser at the greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said:

While the Chambers of Commerce understand that congestion is a problem in Greater Birmingham, we would not support the introduction of a parking levy, given it would create an additional cost to business.

Also, there is no evidence to suggest that a levy fulfils its purpose of reducing congestion.  Two years after the introduction of the workplace parking levy (WPL) in Nottingham, there was no evidence to demonstrate that traffic congestion had actually been reduced.

The WPL has however raised a significant funding stream for the local authority, which would highlight that the WPL is simply yet another means of raising business tax.

Employers in Nottingham who provide workplace parking places are required to apply for a WPL licence and, where applicable, pay a charge as part of the levy scheme.

We welcome initiatives to reduce congestion, but the business community must be consulted on these and ensure that initiatives recommended are backed by evidence to support their effectiveness.

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