Car parking tax would hit 1,000 government workers in Edinburgh

Half of the Scottish Government workers facing the charge are based at Victoria Quay in Leith. Picture: Scott Louden
Half of the Scottish Government workers facing the charge are based at Victoria Quay in Leith. Picture: Scott Louden
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More than 1,300 Scottish Government workers face being hit with the proposed new car parking tax – including more than 1,000 in Edinburgh.

Half of those who face the new charge, which councils are to be given the power to introduce, are based at Victoria Quay in Leith, which has 672 spaces.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay revealed the extent of the parking facilities at its five key bases in response to a question from Labour’s Jackie Baillie. It prompted motoring organisations to brand the scheme “fundamentally unfair”.

Saughton House in the west of Edinburgh, which houses government civil servants and public sector bodies such as the Parole Board for Scotland, has 346 spaces, the figures show.

The government’s main base at St Andrew’s House in the centre of the capital, where Nicola Sturgeon and her team of ministers are based, has 103 spaces.

Elsewhere around the country, the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen’s Nigg area, which houses fisheries quango Marine Scotland, has 128 spaces.

And the government’s Atlantic Quay Glasgow base, on the banks of the Clyde, has 65 spaces for workers.

Baillie, Labour MSP for Dumbarton, said: “The Scottish Government has thousands of workplace parking spaces across Scotland for the use of their staff. The 2012 Scottish Government Staff Travel Survey showed that a staggering 96 per cent of staff at Edinburgh’s Victoria Quay, who took part in the survey, said that they use workplace parking each day.

“Based on the charges currently being imposed on workers in Nottingham, in the five largest Scottish Government buildings, according to the Scottish Government themselves, the cost would be in excess of half a million pounds each year. This is a huge amount of money to take out of the public purse or, if they decided to pass it on, out of the pockets of hard-working staff.

“For thousands of staff, both within the Scottish Government and across Scottish industry, they have no other option but to drive to their place of work. This levy will disproportionately affect lower-paid staff. Imposing this charge on employers and employees is yet another example of this SNP government’s mismanagement of public funds and a desperate attempt to now raise some revenue to offset over a decade of misspending.”

It has been estimated that the capital could have up to 39,000 workplace parking spaces, with up to 90 per cent of these potentially liable for the levy if it was applied to staff in the same way as Nottingham, where the only scheme in the UK, so far, operates.

It does still mean that just one tenth of the 330,000 workers in the capital would pay the tax.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has previously said that the government would be responsible for a levy on buildings it occupies, but declined to say if this would be passed on to staff.

Proposals for a workplace parking levy, brought forward by the Greens, are currently going through the Scottish Parliament. It would give local councils around the country the power to introduce the levy, which has been just over £400 a year in Nottingham.

Teachers and frontline police officers have also complained that they may be forced to pay the charge, while NHS workers have been given a nationwide exemption by ministers.

A Scottish Greens spokesman said: “Of course, the workplace parking levy would only apply in this case if the council in question chose to use it, and even then it would be up to the Scottish Government to decide to pass the charge on to its employees.

“This new power for councils already exists elsewhere in the UK and, where it has been used, has cut congestion and pumped millions into public transport. Councils want it. You have to wonder why Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories at Holyrood don’t.”