Greens accuse Scottish Labour of 'shameless hypocrisy' as party set to oppose workplace parking levy at conference

Train drivers union, ASLEF, will move the motion on Friday at the Scottish Labour conference to reject the tax on staff to park at their place of work.

  • Both ASLEF and Scottish Labour say that the workplace parking tax will not help in investing in public transport and to tackle the growing threat of climate change.
  • After an agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens to support its annual budget, Scottish council’s will have the power to introduce the Workplace levy. 
  • At the local council election in 2017, Scottish Labour councillors in Edinburgh and Glasgow proposed to introduce the workplace parking levy to help compact such issues like traffic congestion.
  • Scottish Greens transport spokesperson John Finnie MSP: “Labour’s shameless hypocrisy on this issue is embarrassing.”
  • SNP’s George Adam: "The workplace parking levy is about empowering councils - allowing them to decide upon which policies work best locally.”

SCOTTISH LABOUR party members will vote at their conference this weekend on a motion to reject the Scottish Government’s workplace parking levy.

Those attending the conference this weekend will debate and vote on a motion that was submitted by the trade union ASLEF on Friday afternoon.

The Scottish Government announced In January plans to hand Scotland’s 32 local authorities power to introduce a workplace parking levy if they so wish after reaching an agreement with the Scottish Greens to support its annual budget.

However, the train drivers union will argue that there isn’t sufficient investment in Scotland’s public transport system and will call on the Scottish Government to improve ScotRail and Scotland’s bus network.

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Colin Smyth said that the workplace parking levy would also not tackle the growing threat of climate change.

READ MORE: Scottish environmentalists rally behind workplace parking levy in letter to party leaders

"It will hit lower paid workers hardest and will do nothing to plug the huge holes in council budgets which are facing £230 million more cuts this year, putting lifeline services at risk for some of the poorest in our communities,” Smyth said.

“Labour supports more power to local government, but this is a regressive tax on working people. 

“The company boss will pay the same as the company cleaner. The exemptions made by the SNP mean a health board chief executive on over £100,000 a year won’t pay but a carer working for a charity on the minimum wage will.”

While the details of the proposal have not yet been worked out, such levies would see employers pay an annual tax to their local council for every parking place they provide for their employees, and have the option of passing the cost on to staff. Employers who have fewer than ten staff are typically exempt. The Scottish Government has stressed that NHS workers would not have to pay.

READ MORE: Analysis: The workplace parking levy is well meaning - but is it well thought through?

In England, all local authorities already have the power to introduce a workplace parking levy. So far, the tax is rolled out in Nottingham where the cash raised is then invested back into public transport.

At the 2017 council elections, Scottish Labour’s councillors in Edinburgh and Glasgow stood on a ticket of exploring a workplace parking levy to tackle traffic congestion. The Edinburgh Evening News has said they understand the party’s MSP’s were involved in drawing up the manifestos.  

Scottish Greens transport spokesperson John Finnie MSP said that Scottish Labour’s “shameless hypocrisy” on this issue is “embarrassing”.

The Highlands MSP added: “Our proposals to devolve decision-making powers to councils reflect measures the Labour Government took in England 20 years ago.

READ MORE: As Holyrood debates parking levy, campaigners press for public owned buses as alternative to driving

“The workplace parking levy has been introduced successfully by a Labour council in Nottingham, raising millions for public transport, while cutting emissions and air pollution. Labour included proposals for a workplace parking levy in its 2017 local authority election manifestos in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Yet, it has decided to ditch this good work to chase headlines in the Daily Mail, offering no solution to tackle the thousands of air pollution-related deaths that occur each year in Scotland.”

SNP’s George Adam MSP commented: "The workplace parking levy is about empowering councils - allowing them to decide upon which policies work best locally. 

"The only local authority anywhere in the UK that currently charges people to park at their work is Labour-run Nottingham council. 

"Just two years ago Labour councillors stood on a manifesto to deliver these powers to local authorities.  Now they're gearing up for a major conference debate to tear apart their own policy. 

"Labour are all over the place and its little wonder they continue to languish in a distant third place in Scottish politics." 

Picture courtesy of Nick Page

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