Councils should have powers over workplace parking charges, poll suggests

There is a “clear majority” in favour of councils being given powers to bring in a new levy on workplace parking, research by a Holyrood committee has found.

A survey by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee of almost 4,600 people and organisations found 58.5% backed the controversial measure, with 41.5% opposed.

The overwhelming majority of responses – 4,491 of 4,598 – came from private individuals, with 58.94% of this group in favour of local authorities being granted the power.

Meanwhile, of the 50 businesses that took part, 80% were opposed to the introduction of a workplace parking charge.

Overall, the survey “shows there is a clear majority in favour of local authorities being given this power”.

The committee carried out the research after the Scottish Government agreed to back the move as part of its budget deal with the Scottish Greens.

Green MSPs have now lodged a series of amendments to the Transport Bill, which is currently going through Holyrood, to bring this about.

These set out exemptions to the charge for hospitals, NHS premises and hospices, as well as for disabled parking spaces.

Local authorities would have to publish and consult on proposals before going ahead with such a scheme.

But the proposals have come under fire from the other opposition parties at Holyrood, with Scottish Tories raising fears commuters could be forced to pay as much as £500 a year to park at their place of work.

The Greens believe the measure is needed to help reduce transport emissions, by encouraging more people to ditch the car for their commute into work.

More than 90% of those who back the idea of a workplace parking levy believe it will help reduce local air pollution, and for commuters to ditch their cars in favour of other modes of transport.

Of those opposed to the policy, more than 80% argued drivers already paid enough in fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, with others concerned about the impact it could have on low paid workers who rely on their car.

More than 50% of opponents of the workplace parking levy said the proposals had not be subject to any formal public consultation.

The committee released the research ahead of its first evidence session on the proposed new levy on Wednesday.

MSPs on the committee are then expected to  vote on the amendments in mid-June.

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