Government concern over councils' parking charges plan
Published: 23rd Aug 2010 14:22:20
Charging motorists hundreds of pounds a year to park at work was not what the government meant when it told councils to find new income, sources insist.
A "handful" of councils in England are looking at introducing workplace parking levies, according to the Local Government Association.
The LGA said they were under pressure to find new sources of income.
But a spokesman for Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said they should look at other kinds of charges instead.
It follows a report in the Daily Telegraph, which claimed cash-strapped councils were turning to a scheme originally conceived to cut congestion and help the environment as a way of raising revenue.
The newspaper claimed this meant the government had abandoned its commitment to end the "war on the motorist".
DCLG sources said Mr Pickles had been referring to other kinds of discretionary charges when he told councils to find new revenue streams.
Workplace parking levies are one option being considered by a handful of councils”
These included charging other local authorities for building and cleaning services, charging insurers for annual tree inspections or providing MOT services for motorists.
Nottingham is so far the only local authority to announce plans to introduce workplace parking levies.
Under the scheme employers with more than 10 spaces will be charged £253 a year from 2012, with the bill set to rise to £350 within two years.
The money raised will fund part of the city's tram extension, refurbishment of its railway station and bus network - but it has come under fire from local employers and motorists.
According to the Telegraph, a number of local authorities are considering following Nottingham's lead - including Bristol, York, Devon, Leeds, Bournemouth, South Somerset and Wiltshire.
Hampshire County Council denied the paper's claim it was considering a "modest" version of the scheme.
Executive member for environment, Councillor Mel Kendal, said: "I would like to make it clear that the county council has no plans to implement these charges."
But Bristol City Council confirmed it was in the early stages of "exploring the potential for a workplace parking levy".
Gary Hopkins, cabinet member for strategic transport, waste and targeted improvement, said: "The potential benefits for transport from the money raised could mean lower bus fares, or even free bus fares in the city centre, discounted season tickets, and help attract other bus companies into the city bringing more competition.
"It could help pay for investment in smart cards, integrated ticketing, real-time bus information and local car clubs that can provide flexibility for those who need to use the car some of the time but want to keep costs down."
He said it could also help business by cutting traffic congestion, but added: "Of course I recognise that for some people getting around the city by car is a necessity so reducing congestion will help them, and not penalise them as a cordon charge would do."
LGA Vice Chairman Councillor David Sparks said councils were having to find new ways of funding services.
"Councils invest millions of pounds every year in improving roads and public transport and play a key role in cutting congestion and reducing harmful emissions.
"Workplace parking levies are one option being considered by a handful of councils at the moment as way of continuing to fund this."
The Department for Transport, which would have to approve any workplace parking schemes, said it had not been approached by any local authorities planning such a move.
A spokesman said: "It is for local authorities to consider what measures are appropriate for improving transport and tackling congestion in their area.
"However, local authorities would need to consult fully on any proposed workplace parking levy scheme and assess the impact on those affected."
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2010. Government concern over councils' parking charges plan [Online] (Updated 23rd Aug 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/84110/Government-concern-over-councils-parking-charges-plan [Accessed 31st Jul 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
Shoppers in Caerphilly county have been left baffled after a store installed new Welsh signs which instead feature Scottish Gaelic words.