Scottish Executive caves in on workplace parking levies

Powers for local authorities to introduce workplace parking levies were scratched from Scotland's Transport Bill on 8 November.

The move was initiated by Murray Tosh (Con, South of Scotland) during the Bill's second stage in the Scottish Parliament's Transport and Environment Committee. He argued that the Scottish Executive had failed to show how parking levies would reduce congestion.

Transport Minister Sarah Boyack conceded without a fight, noting that parking levies were strongly opposed by both businesses and trade unions. "As a listening and, above all, pragmatic Government, consensus matters a great deal to us," she said. "We do not want to jeopardise the support that exists for many of the other provisions in the Bill."

The only dissentients were Liberal Democrat and Green MSPs. Robin Harper (Green, Lothians) and Donald Gorrie (LD, Central Scotland) argued that the Bill would only confer an enabling power to introduce parking levies, and the decision should be left to local people and their representatives.

"The provision of untaxed, free parking places at workplaces would seriously undermine other aspects of the Bill," according to Mr Harper. But Labour and SNP members voted through the amendments to remove the levy provisions, leaving Scotland out of step with the Transport Bill south of the border.

Ms Boyack also successfully opposed an SNP amendment backed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to enable councils to introduce congestion charges on trunk roads through urban areas.

Local authorities will have a duty to consult major interests over congestion charging schemes, and Ms Boyack revealed that regulations will oblige them to hold an inquiry if there are unresolved objections. Ministers will also be able to order an inquiry.

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