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Nottingham bids to be first with workplace parking charges

NOTTINGHAM CITY Council will commit itself to being the first local authority to charge employers for workplace parking spaces provided the Government allows the scheme to be introduced gradually.

Plans would be phased in from 2003 after the opening of the Nottingham Supertram Line 1 and start at £150 a year per space. This would be gradually ratcheted up towards £350 as public transport improves in the city. The levy is projected to raise £70M over 10 years.

Nottingham City Council's transport committee chairman councillor Mike Edwards said:

'We really want the tax to work.

It's not that unpopular in Nottingham as a whole and we want to show people that we are committed to see change begin to happen.'

The City Council has written to transport minister Lord MacDonald urging him to accept its plans even though the proposed levy on its own would not meet Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions guidelines.

Under the guidelines, only schemes that will reduce traffic congestion can be approved. In Nottingham it is thought that only an annual parking levy of £2,000 per parking space would significantly cut congestion.

But Nottingham maintains that the level of charge would depend on the amount companies spent on green travel plans. It argues that the extra being spent in Nottingham would result in reduced congestion.

The plan would see money spent by individual firms on green travel plans subtracted from their annual workplace parking charges. Big employers such as Boots, which have developed green travel plans for employees, are expected to be able to claim half their annual workplace parking bill back from the council if they can show audited accounts of investment to improve non-car alternatives for their employees.

The City Council has not yet received a formal reply but the DETR is said to be sympathetic to the plans. Transport strategy manager Sue Flack said: '(Ministers) are trying to encourage us to be innovative and find new ways of doing things. We hope we have convinced the Government that it is a good idea to start low.'

A DETR spokesperson said: 'We are still considering the Nottingham proposals. It has to justify to us that congestion will be relieved.'

If approved, it will be the first confirmed workplace parking levy scheme. Birmingham City Council pulled out of its proposed scheme in May because of unpopularity among employers.

Other cities interested in introducing a workplace parking levy include Leicester, Reading, Derby and Cambridge.

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