Green Councillors behind a motion to Full Council tonight (November 9th) backing a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) that would raise millions each year to improve Bristol’s transport say they are disappointed with the Labour administration’s “heel dragging approach” after the Labour and Conservative groups voted together to remove points calling for timely action. The Labour amendment removed the Green motion’s demands to commit to a WPL and to aim for a timetabled delivery plan beginning with a consultation in 2022.
A WPL has been in operation in Nottingham since 2011, where it has raised over £75m, money used to double the size of the city’s tram network and access £600m of inward investment. Nottingham Greens suggest a similar scheme in Bristol could raise over £12 million each year to pay for more frequent and cheaper buses, a joined-up safe cycling network, or even work on a tram or underground system.
Councillor David Wilcox, who proposed the Green motion, said:
“I’m really disappointed that Labour and Conservatives voted to weaken our motion, which would use a levy on large businesses staff parking to fund transport upgrades our city desperately needs. By amending our motion to refer action back to the administration I’m afraid that this fantastic policy could be kicked down the road. Council approved a Green motion in 2016 calling for a Clean Air Zone in Bristol, and after years of delays by Marvin Rees this is only due to be introduced six years later. We have to have more ambition for Bristol than this – Labour’s heel dragging approach to transport is letting the city down.”
Councillor Tim Wye, who spoke to second the Green motion, said:
“This project is exactly what Bristol needs – a simple, deliverable way to reduce traffic into the city and raise funding to transform our transport. It’s not right some people feel forced to drive to get to work on time or have no bus service where they live. We have a duty to improve our public transport in this city, so people have a real alternative to the car. This is precisely what the WPL would do.”
Green councillors said they voted for the amended motion in the end as despite being significantly weakened it retained the possibility of a WPL being delivered in the future, and called on the administration to report back to Full Council on the findings of an internal appraisal report to consider a WPL.
Councillor Wye explained:
“We supported the amended motion in the end as despite Labour’s motion undermining it, it still calls for the administration to report back to Full Council on the appraisal reports findings and hopefully produce a delivery timetable. So I’m pleased that this motion has put the matter firmly on the agenda – we know from Nottingham’s success that this policy would benefit everyone by improving transport for the whole city. Greens will be following up with the Labour administration to try and ensure that Bristol doesn’t miss out on the benefits a WPL could bring.”
“However, Labour’s dilution of this positive proposal is deeply disheartening. We simply don’t have the time to delay initiatives like this. Drivers, pedestrians, bus users, cyclists – our current transport system works for nobody. The average driver in the city loses over £1000 each year to congestion, we still have no safe joined up cycle network, and air pollution results in hundreds of deaths each year. While the Mayor is at COP26 talking up the importance of local government funding to tackle the climate crisis, his party are whipped to vote with Tories to undermine a scheme that would raise millions to do just this. Of course Bristol needs more funding from the government, but after years of transport inaction and traffic rates returning to pre-pandemic levels, we cannot afford to wait for the Conservative Government to come to our rescue.”
FAQ – Workplace Parking Levy
What it isn’t:
What it is
So it won’t affect:
But all of these people will benefit from less congestion and improved transport possible through a WPL
Exemptions – Nottingham has the following exemptions for its scheme. Bristol could adopt these and add further exemptions if the Council thought it was needed, e.g. to protect teachers from potentially having charges passed down by their employer:
Can employers pass on the charges to their workers?
How much would it raise?
Important to note the money raised would be ring fenced by law to be spent on transport upgrades – and so would not be at risk of being absorbed by council spending on other things. It could fund things like a joined up safe cycle network, subsidise cheaper buses or new routes, or support a new mass transit system.
Other things to note