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Plans to charge employers for parking spaces rejected
AN attempt to charge employers for letting their employees park in private spaces in Oxford has been rejected.
A motion put forward by Labour councillor Susanna Pressel collapsed when it was put to yesterday’s full meeting of Oxfordshire County Council.
Ms Pressel said a levy could raise cash for the council and reduce congestion by encouraging commuters to use public transport.
But despite winning the support of Labour and Green councillors, the motion was defeated after it was branded bad for business by Tories and Liberal Democrats.
It comes after a similar scheme was launched in Nottingham, which raises £8m a year.
Ms Pressel, who also sits on the city council, said: “Congestion is bad for the economy and very bad for our health.
“The main cause of congestion is, of course, commuters, so it is only fair to look to employers to accept some responsibility for it.”
The plan – which is the latest of its kind to be considered in the city – may have been knocked back, but some say the scheme would benefit the city.
Simon Pratt, regional director of sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said he would welcome a levy.
He said: “There is something like 1,500 public off-road parking spaces and in excess of 6,000 privately owned parking spaces. The issue is not just about parking but about additional traffic it creates.”
Taxi driver Colin Dobson was less happy, saying: “It's an impractical, ill-thought-through proposal, a yet further unwanted tax on local businesses.”
During the meeting, Green group leader David Williams said: “I am very much in support of this particular proposal. “I think the officers have to look at some of the legalities of it, like where do we draw the line for very small employers?”
Conservative and Liberal politicians argued that the levy was not the answer, and some said it would cause more trouble than it was worth.
Lib Dem Jean Fooks, also a city councillor, said: “I can only agree that congestion is extremely bad for everybody.
“It is bad for the people sitting in it and bad because of the pollution it causes, but the solution is not immediately obvious.”
Others were also critical.
Conservative Simon Hoare said: “I wonder what happens to the schools of the city, to the hospitals of the city, to the universities. This is not a levy, it is a tax on business.”
Lib Dem Alison Rooke said the charge would affect ordinary people, whether or not employers passed it on.
She said: “If people are charged to park at their place of work, it will be a charge on them, and if the charge is paid by the employers, they will put up prices.”
And Tory cabinet member for finance Arash Fatemian said: “This is about what the Labour Party does best – taxing hard – working families and the residents of Oxfordshire back to the stone age.”
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