Midlothian council urges Edinburgh to say no to carpark tax

Wednesday March 27th 2019

Fairfield House

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

More than half of Midlothian’s working population could be hit by a workplace car park tax if it is introduced in Edinburgh.

Midlothian councillors said 52 per cent of people who are in employment in the county work in the Scottish Capital.

And they called on Midlothian to unite with other councils whose residents will be affected to put a united case to Edinburgh City Council urging them not to introduce the new levy.

Conservative Councillor Janet Lay-Douglas said the car park tax was detrimental to people in Midlothian.

And in a motion put before fellow councillors she asked them to agree it would not be introduced in the county and raise their concerns over the impact on their residents who work in Edinburgh if it is imposed in the Capital.

She said: “It is unfair and unreasonable to impose a workplace car park tax on Midlothian residents when for most of them there is no realistic alternative to a car.”

She said residents in Midlothian often had to include school drop offs on their journey to work or cover shifts which can mean travelling at unsociable hours.

She said: “None of these people deserve to be punished by being charged an estimated £500 by attending workplaces.”

Councillor Russell Imrie, Labour, backed the motion with an amendment urging them to get together with Fife, Scottish Borders, West Lothian and East Lothian councils who he said had also confirmed the would not be introducing the levy, to present a joint position to Edinburgh City Council.

He said: “Fifty-two per cent of working population in Midlothian travel into Edinburgh to work, not all can get a bus and not all can get a train.

“In Midlothian there are pockets right now that don’t actually have any public transport.”

Mr Imrie compared the workplace car park levy, which local authorities have been given the power to introduce this year, to Edinburgh City Council’s efforts to introduce a congestion charge nearly two decades ago.

He said: “It wasn’t thought out, it wasn’t inclusive.”

However SNP councillor Joe Wallace described the motion as pointless.

He told the meeting of Midlothian Council: “I am quite baffled by this motion: this levy is not compulsory on any council and would be imposed on the employer not the employee.”

And fellow SNP councillor won the support of Conservative Provost Peter Smail when he called for money being invested in the HS2 project (high speed railway links to London) to be suspended and the money invested in improving transport systems in other towns and cities.

Provost Peter Smail told him: “Personally I agree with you entirely on HS2 which is an appalling cost benefit ratio.”

The motion with the amendment was passed by councillors by ten votes to six.

Councillor Lay-Douglas said: “Charging people to park at their place of work would be damaging and regressive, affecting families on lower incomes more harshly.

“Despite cuts to Midlothian Council’s core budget, the Conservative Group agree a tax of this nature would hurt motorists in Midlothian.”

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