Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Boots Company (TYP 11)


  Boots along with other major businesses in Nottingham (including Imperial Tobacco, Carlton TV, University of Nottingham, Nottingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry and East Midlands CBI) have serious concerns about the workplace parking levy as a means of reducing traffic congestion and about the way the City Council is planning to introduce it. So much so that business has formed a "STOP Workplace Parking Tax" campaign which has so far resulted in employees demonstrating against the tax outside the Council offices and letter writing to councillors. (A copy of the launch leaflet is enclosed for information).

  Our main concerns are:

  1.  The Levy, aimed at employers and not the road user, will do little to reduce traffic congestion. There is no incentive not to use the car, it is purely a money raiser—a fact admitted by the leader of the City Council. A previous Minister, Lord Whitty, said at a public meeting in Nottingham in February 2001 that WPL is a crude measure and an interim to Road User Charging.

  Additionally, officials in the DTLR have indicated that there is no evidence from anywhere in the world that traffic congestion is reduced by this measure and indeed it there is a marginal reduction, other drivers not currently commuting by car will see some "slack" in the system and promptly put their car on the road.

  2.  The City Council in Nottingham is introducing WPL without proper and full consultation. WPL has been written in to their Local Transport Plan as a fâit a compli. Only as a result of pressure from business in December 2001 has the leader of the City Council announced research (at minimal cost and short timescale) to be undertaken into the alternative road user charging.

  It is also important to note that the official DTLR guidance for local authorities for the implementation of WPL or RUC has not yet been published or issued.

  3.  Businesses do not form a campaign group lightly. They usually work in partnership with the City Council to help solve problems/issues. This clearly shows the strength of feeling in Nottingham.

  In summary, WPL as a means of reducing traffic congestion appears to be flawed. In Nottingham, it has pitted business against local authority when what we should be doing is working together to solve traffic congestion problems to the benefit of all

  Alternatively, Road User Charging directly impacts on the car user and can be targeted at peak commuting times to avoid penalising shoppers and retailers. Introducing imaginative schemes to offset shoppers car parking charges by the same amount as the road toll could also ensure that the vitality and viability of city centres is not damaged.

  Finally, implementing a policy in isolation without consideration of a regional strategy for traffic reduction may have the reverse effect ie a measure introduced in Nottingham may encourage motorists to drive further or businesses to relocate to Derby or Leicester. Currently it does not appear that regional activity is being co-ordinated in terms of introduction of measures to reduce congestion or timescale to achieve it.

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