When Nottingham City Council first announced its plans for a workplace parking levy, the backlash was immediate. “Lots of businesses were trying to work out ways to get round it,” says BBC Nottingham journalist Rebecca Brice, who covered the story. “I spoke to one employer who was talking about painting huge [bays] in the car park so it looked as if there were only 10 spaces [because 10 is the maximum number allowed before a company must start paying].” Under Nottingham’s WPL scheme, businesses with 11 or more spaces must pay an annual tax (currently £415 per space); but an estimated 40 per cent of employers have passed the cost on to their workers. “People were initially outraged because they were paying the money, but not seeing the benefits,” says Brice. Seven years on, however, the city’s WPL scheme is held u p as a model and has helped the city win an Ashden Award for sustainable travel. Under the English legislation, the money collected must be ring-fenced for public transport improvement projects. So far, the revenue – £53m and rising – has helped secure a £570m extension to the tram network, a £60m redevelopment of the city’s railway station and support for the £15m electric Link bus network. Though the WPL scheme is not without its critics, there has been a 100 per cent compliance rate and no impact on inward investment, and Nottingham’s integrated transport network is now the envy of neighbouring cities. The WPL scheme may also have helped Nottingham slash its carbon emissions by a third since 2005, allowing it to meet the city council’s 2020 target four years early. So successful has the scheme proved that other places, including Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol, and the London boroughs of Merton, Brent and Camden, look set to follow suit.
Scotland on Sunday 17th Feb 2019 read more »