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Workplace parking scheme comes under fire

Government plans to introduce a workplace parking levy (WPL) have been criticised by the Forum of Private Business (FPB), which claims the charge amounts to a ‘stealth tax’.

According to recent reports, the Government is expected to impose a £250 levy on firms with 11 or more parking spaces. The charge, which is payable on each space, could rise to £350 over the next two years.

Nottingham City Council will be the first council to implement the scheme, effective from 2012. Other councils reportedly considering the initiative include Bristol , York , Devon, Hampshire, Leeds, Bournemouth, South Somerset and Wiltshire.

While ministers hope the levy will ease traffic congestion, the FPB has warned that the measure will have a ‘disproportionate impact on small businesses’.

‘It’s the equivalent of charging home owners to park on their own driveways and will increase parking problems in town centres and cities,’ said the FPB’s spokesman, Chris Gorman.

He added: ‘Businesses already contribute enormous amounts to public services through existing taxes such as business rates. Whatever its supposed justifications, the danger is that the WPL could open the floodgates to a raft of new taxes and charges being levied onto companies to pay for things which were previously paid for through general taxation’.

However, Stephen Joseph, the executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, welcomed the move. ‘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,’ he said.