Edinburgh Labour leader still defiant over parking levy

CITY Labour group leader Cammy Day has sounded a defiant note over his support for a Workplace Parking Levy after the party’s Scottish conference voted overwhelmingly to oppose the policy.

Only a handful of delegates at the Dundee gathering at the weekend voted against the motion from train drivers’ union Aslef which attacked the Scottish Government’s plans to give councils the power to introduce the parking levy.

It argued public transport was not operating at an acceptable enough level for workers to rely on it for getting to work and claimed transport staff would be particularly badly hit.

No-one spoke against the motion. And party transport spokesman Colin Smyth condemned the levy plan as “an ill-thought out, halfbaked, short-sighted tax that will hit low paid workers”.

Labour councillor Cammy Day. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

But Edinburgh Labour included a call for powers to introduce a workplace parking levy in its manifesto at the 2017 local elections.

And Cllr Day said he would stick by that position despite the conference decision.

He said he and his council colleagues had been elected on a manifesto which sought the power to bring in the parking levy and he would continue to support a consultation with the public on it as part of wider plans for the city, including a low emission zone and making the city centre more pedestrian and cycle friendly.

He said: “We committed to this in the election and we are working with the government and the city to see how best we can make this happen.”

The Scottish Government included the levy proposal in its budget last month as part of its deal with the Greens. It will be put before the Scottish Parliament as an amendment to the Transport Bill currently going through Holyrood.

The city council has already promised public consultation before any scheme is 
introduced in the Capital. The Aslef motion highlighted the problem faced by transport workers on the first and last shifts of the day. “As these staff are providing the public transport, it is not possible for them to use it to travel to work and these staff would be unduly affected by a workplace car parking levy.”

Cllr Day said he wanted to ensure a levy did not impact on hard-working people who had to travel to work by car.

He said: “We’re committed to consult with people and work with the Scottish Government to see what exemptions there will be.”

But he added: “This was a commitment in a manifesto signed off by the Labour party and it’s part of our plan for the city along with a Low Emission Zone and city centre 
transformation and trying to make the city a more sustainable place to live and work.”

It is estimated a levy in Edinburgh could raise £9m-£15m.

A Labour spokesman said: “Labour conference voted to oppose this measure and we will oppose it on the Transport Bill. The government are seeking to introduce this measure with no assessment of its potential impact.”