Our most recent letter was published in today’s issue of the Leicester Mercury. If you want to read more about the Campaign Against Leicester’s Workplace Parking Levy then read our online pamphlet which can be downloaded here.
Leicester City Council leaders seemingly have nothing to say to the public about their plans to charge city workers £550 a year to drive to work. They remain silent, all the while a fearful and angry debate continues to rage through city workplaces.
The Council don’t even try to correct obvious falsehoods, like the one in the opening sentence of a recent Leicester Mercury (July 7) article which asserted that the proposed Workplace Parking Levy is a plan “to tax parking spaces owned by private companies in the centre of Leicester.” Ignoring this falsehood on the Council’s part represents a dereliction of their duties to the public.
To clear up any confusion, the Council should have clarified that the tax will apply to the public and private alike. They should have issued a correction stating that their proposed charge would apply to parking spaces as far north as the industrial estates around Castle Hill and Beaumont Leys (applying to sites like Glenfield Hospital and Walkers crisp factory), and as far south as Saffron Hill Cemetery.
The Council’s own reports acknowledge that the vast majority of workplace affected by their proposed regressive tax lie outside of the city centre, so why can’t our Council leaders speak up?
Of the total 31,724 workplace parking spaces in our city, 89% lie outside of the city centre.
The Council’s smoke and mirrors approach to what they describe as their “levy on employers” sows deliberate confusion in many ways, but most of all because it pretends to offer a solution to both the climate emergency and poor state of public transport in our city. It does neither.
The levy will do next to nothing to alleviate congestion or improve local air quality, nor will it do anything to lower bus fares to a rate that is considered affordable by workers.
Furthermore, the Council say there will be 400 buses in Leicester by 2030 which is less than our city has today!
If the Council are serious about wanting to transform public transport along the lines proposed by workers’ trade unions (like RMT and Unite) they need to campaign alongside workers for improvements, not pummel them with a £550 levy.
The Council have said they will use part of the £10 million a year they levy from our pay-packets to give more money to private bus companies in order to help improve existing services. But this can be done without charging city workers, as the Council admit in their own plans that if the levy falls through then their backup plan is to ask for more money from the Department for Transport.
The Council have proposed that “the most significant area for both revenue and capital investment” in future years will be on the outer orbital route where the Centrebus route 40 currently provides a very limited weekday service. The Council say they aim to have the route run buses “every 15 minutes within a 5-year period from its current hourly frequency.” This would be nice.
It is however important to point out that while having more buses on route 40 would be welcome, it is not the solution to Leicester’s deep-seated transport problems. Nor would these changes (to be implemented over the next 5 years) solve the fact that many low-waged workers would be faced with an annual £550 charge because they would still be reliant upon their cars to get to work.