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Councils to get car park tax power after Holyrood backs plan

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Fuelling debate: the levy has been controversial

Scotland’s councils will get a new power to impose a tax on parking at work after SNP and Green MSPs headed off opposition to the controversial plan.

The two parties combined to ensure the Workplace levy remained in the Transport Bill.

Opposition MSPs tabled a series of amendments aimed at diluting or axing the plans, which will give councils the power to impose a tax on employers. Critics fear this will be passed on to staff.

A Scottish Labour amendment calling for the removal of the proposal was rejected by 65 votes to 54. 

However, ministers were accused of hypocrisy for approving the tax while SNP members claimed about £300,000 in expenses for their own work-related travel.

Councils will have the choice of whether to impose the levy which will mean employers paying an annual tax to the council for every parking space that they provide.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson accused Scottish Labour of “hypocrisy” over their opposition to the proposal, highlighting the introduction of a similar scheme at the Labour-run Nottingham City council. 

Mr Matheson said: “It’s a power, not a duty. There is a high degree of local decision making in how a scheme is set up, with local authorities having wide powers to shape how that scheme is shaped to meet local needs. “

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “The simple fact is that the car park tax is a bad idea. 

“It is a bad idea because it is a regressive tax likely to cost up to £500 a year which will hit lowest paid workers the hardest. 

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Workplace parking levies are a charter for extra cost and complexity and it is disappointing MSPs are backing them. 

“The introduction of a levy will see firms’ taxed twice for the parking places they provide for staff, on top of the business rates already paid on those spaces. 

“The dearth of any business and regulatory impact assessment to accompany the introduction of this new tax is bewildering.” 

The Scottish Government has already specified that NHS sites would not be included in any charging scheme brought in by local councils, dismissing suggestions from Labour earlier this week that the tax will remove £5m from the public purse.

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