A last-ditch bid will be made in the Scottish Parliament to halt controversial plans to introduce workplace parking levies from next month.
The Tories will bring a debate on the levy to Holyrood on Wednesday, arguing the scheme is a “tax on drivers” which will have “no environmental benefit”.
The party will also take forward a vote to the Scottish Parliament’s net zero committee today to halt the legislation, which is due to come into force on March 4.
The Scottish Government is handing powers to councils to introduce workplace parking levies which would mean would mean workers wishing to park at their work could face a fee or charge – unless the employer foots the bill.
The legislation would aim to cut the numbers of drivers on roads and clean up the environment but arguments have been made that a parking levy on workers would be punitive for commuters from rural areas across the north and north-east.
‘Punishing new tax’
Scottish Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Graham Simpson MSP said his party will do “everything we can to halt this punishing new tax”.
He added: “Scottish businesses and their hardworking staff are dreading the introduction of this unfair scheme – and many are wondering how they are going to cope with the potentially exorbitant charges.
“As long as the SNP continue to fail to provide Scotland with a public transport system that is affordable and fit-for-purpose, punitive measures like this will have no environmental benefit.
“Instead, this senseless tax will hit businesses and workers hard, slap bang in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and our recovery from the pandemic.
“Scots can see right through the SNP’s bluster – this is nothing more than a money-making scheme to help shore up holes in the SNP Government’s inadequate local council funding.
“But it’s not too late to reverse these plans. I urge the SNP to listen to the outcry on all sides and scrap this irresponsible tax before businesses and working Scots bear the brunt.”
Business backlash over parking levy
The plans have been criticised by those within Scotland’s business community, including the Scottish Chamber of Commerce.
Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the organisation, said: “The business backlash to these proposals from within our membership has been substantial.
“Businesses are incredulous that they are facing yet more upfront business costs, just as the economy is beginning to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and employers are getting back on their feet.”
Councils including Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Highland have said there are no current plans to introduce the workplace parking levy.
But voters will go to the polls in May in the local council elections and new administrations would be free to make their own decisions.
Climate change goals
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “Workplace parking licensing schemes have the potential to encourage the use of more sustainable travel, while raising revenue that will be used to improve public and sustainable transport.
“It supports our commitment to reduce car kilometres travelled by 20% by 2030 as part of our climate change goals.
“These new discretionary local powers, which are already held by councils in England and Wales, were welcomed by our local authority partners in COSLA and by local leaders of all parties, as well as Transform Scotland, Friends of the Earth and other transport partners.”