Workplace parking levy plan dropped

A PLAN for a workplace parking levy has been dropped due to inflation and a lack of “funding and ambition” for a mass transit system. Mayor Marvin Rees said “now is not the time” to create further costs for drivers struggling with the cost-of living crisis.

Details of the workplace parking levy plan were published on Monday, August 7, after a judge ordered Bristol City Council to publish its report into how it could work. The report found a levy could raise millions every year to invest in the city’s public transport network. Businesses would be charged for every employee parking at work, in a bid to encourage commuters to use public transport and cut congestion and pollution. A levy in Nottingham introduced a decade ago has raised more than £83 million for improving public transport.

Writing on his blog, Mr Rees said: “With high inflation during a national cost of living crisis, now is not the time to create more costs for people. Others will say that today is an ideal moment to hit teachers, nurses and other Bristolians parking at schools, hospitals and other workplaces in central Bristol for hundreds of pounds, if not more. They are wrong.

“Bristol has in recent years, like the rest of the world, seen major changes in working patterns during and following the pandemic. These patterns will also have been impacted by the introduction of the Clean Air Zone, for which our administration recently secured another £11 million to help people and businesses upgrade to compliant vehicles.

“A study was done into the idea of a workplace parking levy, which is lacking any modelling incorporating those major factors for its potential effectiveness. It remains incomplete and — with the current stalling of the funding and ambition to take a mass transit system forward — we have no plans to introduce this charge.”

The council initially commissioned the report, at a cost of £30,000, in 2021 as a potential option for funding upgrades to Bristol’s public transport network. Since then the council has been battling a freedom of information request, made by Green Councillor Ed Plowden on the grounds that it was informing policy development and part of a wider piece of work, which was yet to be published.

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service