Nottingham City Council’s tax on workers..

Nottingham City Council?

Nottingham City Council?

Nottingham City Council get on my nerves.  After a petition lodged with the Prime Minister’s website, they released a patronising and ridiculous statement attempting to justify their punitive revenue generating scheme levelled at the honest workers of Nottingham.  I sent them a long and ranty email about it, for all the good it will do… you should do the same.

The quoted bits are extracts from the statement issued by the robbing so and so’s Nottingham City Council puppet spokesperson…

Dear Sir/Madam,

It is with no small degree of dismay that I read the recent response to the petition submitted to the Prime Minister’s website from a representative of Nottingham City Council in relation to the Working Place Parking Levy proposal; which despite sensible objections appears to be pressing ahead to impose a new taxation on a subset of Nottingham and it’s surrounding area’s population.

I have copied sections of the reponse below, and annotated where I have queries relating to the various points discussed; I would appreciate if these concerns could be considered in the ongoing progression of the scheme, because to state that I am dissatisfied with the explanation provided by Jon Collins would be an extreme understatement.

“But we’ve got to keep the city moving. Forecasts tell us that car use is set to increase, congestion levels will get much worse and, ultimately, over the next 20 years oil production is going to peak. Any city that does not plan to meet these challenges is not planning ahead for sustainable growth.

People all over the UK are beginning to wake up to the fact that we’ve got to reduce our reliance on the car. Congestion already costs our local economy £160m every year. The traffic jams are literally putting the brakes on our competitiveness and, if left unchecked, our city could grind to halt in a fume filled traffic jam – not good for businesses, not good for residents, not good for anybody, even those driving the cars.”

If the WPL is designed to address congestion, how do you propose to raise revenue to pay for transport improvements, given that presumably you are hoping to encourage fewer people who happen to be unfortunate enough to work within the Nottingham City boundary to take their car to work. What percentage of the traffic active on the roads of Nottingham ends up parking within Nottingham City Boundaries?

How does this short-sighted and reactionary initiative address traffic flowing into and out of the City Boundary? How does it address the increasing amount of parents taking their children to school? It doesn’t – I don’t believe that this scheme is effectively targetting a suitable percentage of the traffic flowing through our city to be in a position to make a robust claim to be a measure to address congestion.

“Businesses tell us they want a public transport system fit for the 21st century. With the Workplace Parking Levy that’s exactly what they’ll get; the Levy is designed to pay for:

· A tram system that spans the entire city

· A modern railway station

· More and better Link buses serving employment sites

· Help and assistance for businesses to implement the Levy

The Levy is a small stick with some really big juicy carrots. It will provide real public transport alternatives, making it easier for people to choose to hop on a bus or tram and leave their cars at home. Importantly, with more people using public transport, those who continue to drive will enjoy less congested roads.”

So those road users who don’t get several hundred pounds written from their salary will benefit; that is beyond doubt. Those people fortunate enough to live within the influence of the proposed public transport links will benefit. Those of us who live outside of these areas and are not served by sufficient public transport will simply be expected to lose a portion of their salary. That doesn’t feel like a carrot to me, and given that a sizeable proportion of the traffic on the roads that will not be punished by this not-so-stealth tax, I’m dubious about how much improvement in congestion there will be.

“The Levy isn’t an additional tax or convenient revenue-generator; it’s a demand management tool which is directly linked to real and tangible benefits, and part of a coherent set of measures that give genuine alternatives to those traveling.”

It is a tax. It is a convenient revenue generator. If you were serious about addressing congestion you would introduce a congestion charge; this would raise revenue from all road users, not a subset. It would also involve investment in infrastructure to implement it (cameras, processing etc) which is why I presume the Council has elected to ‘pass the buck’ to the employers of Nottingham, who they expect to adminster the cashflow of the initiative on their behalf. It is frankly insulting to suggest it is anything other than this.

“Alternative funding sources could, and may, contribute towards public transport in Nottingham. However these sources don’t offer a viable alternative to the Levy as they require further legislation, or are limited in the level of funding they generate.”

It is a funding source, which sounds remarkably like revenue generator, which was denied in only the previous paragraph!

“Ultimately the vast majority of congestion in Nottingham is caused by commuters driving to a free parking space at one of the 500 large employers of the public and private sectors. I believe it’s only fair that these larger employers stop being part of today’s problem and start being part of tomorrow’s solution.”

Or alternatively these larger employers could decide that they would prefer to relocate their business at the first opportunity, leaving a lack of jobs in the region and a disaffected local population.

“And let’s be clear, the Levy is a charge on the employer not the staff; it’s up to the employers to decide whether to pass the charge on. The Levy also won’t apply to businesses with ten or fewer parking spaces because they are more likely to be younger or smaller businesses which we need to encourage and support.”

So we can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that the council washes its hands of whether a business chooses to absorb an exorbitant bill for something they wouldn’t have to pay in a more forward-thinking city; or we can feel alientated and embittered that our employer has passed the cost on to their employees.

“Last year 68% of Nottingham City residents who took part in the consultation supported the Levy and the transport benefits it will bring. Of course there are those who objected, there always will be, but here in Nottingham we’re prepared to take tough decisions for the long-term benefit of the city, and that’s exactly what the Levy does.”

How were people recruited into the consultation process? How widely was it advertised? Research methodologies such as these are not representative; and since – as described above – the levy targets a minority of Nottingham’s road users, it isn’t remotely surprising that the figures were able to be presented in a manner which appears to be a majority. If you don’t work within the Nottingham City boundaries, or don’t drive, then why would you not agree with a mass investment in public transport funded by a minority of road users?

I still fail to see the tangible benefits; aside from an improvement in public transport for a subset of the population lucky enough to be served by the proposed extensions, and perhaps a minor decrease in congestion, I am at a loss to understand how this will actually improve the metrics which the scheme is proposed to – ie, congestion, because such a proportion of road users will remain unaffected and content to use their cars and vans just as they had been doing before.

It is clear from the rhetoric and transparent attempts to reinforce the false aims of this levy that regardless of common-sense objections, they will be ignored and a repetition of the same ill-conceived justifications will be repeated ad infinitum, and the levy will be put into place, and the hundreds of employees of Nottinghams companies will bear the brunt of the cost.

I can’t express clearly enough how disaffected I am with the way my home City is being managed; I am very proud of where I come from, of our heritage and of our City in its current incarnation. It’s genuinely upsetting to read false media portrayals of Nottingham as some kind of drug-addled gun-crazy crime zone. I had always envisioned that I would be happy to remain living and working in the City for my lifetime – but increasingly I cast envious glances at other cities, whose councils don’t choose to disadvantage its’ hard working population, who don’t alienate large employers from wishing to base themselves with them, who offer genuine initiatives to make the environment a better place rather than cynically seek to extort money from people already under pressure from raising prices of fuel, amenities and groceries.

It is genuinely heartbreaking to consider my home in this way; but policies such as these leave little room for misinterpretation, whatever propaganda or spin is applied in a slapdash and inconsistent fashion in press releases or responses to petitions.

I hope somewhat vainly that some common sense in this issue will prevail; because I really genuinely fear for the future prosperity of Nottingham should initiatives like this be allowed to proceed.

Sometimes it’s good to let it all out!  It’s ironic that the council desperately clings on to the imagery of Robin Hood, I wonder what he would have made of such corruption?

Since sending the email, it’s clear that the “68% of people agreed” with statistic is based on people who live in Nottingham City boundaries – ie. those probably, in greater Nottingham, less likely to depend on cars, and more likely to depend on public transport.  The beneficiaries of the scheme, not those being punished.  Also, conveniently, the electorate for the City Council of course.  As a friend and colleague pointed out, Nottingham City Council witters about the full population of Nottingham to be considered for misleading crime statistics – then uses the said same methods to try to justify their robbery of non-City-bound motorists trying to earn a living.


Categories: blog | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Nottingham City Council’s tax on workers..

  1. JimJim

    It’s not about traffic congestion. It’s about drive-in workers preventing shoppers from parking. That much I know without even having any information about it. Their aim will be to discourage the former set and bring more money into the city by making things easier for the latter set. It makes sense, doesn’t it? But yes, obviously that will be pretty much pure negative for some people. Such is politics.

    The NCC spokesperson was obviously a bit too politically inclined and tried to spin the policy as “in favour of road users” by suggesting it will decrease traffic jams, but don’t mistake a purported advantage for a reason. As long as a reasonable number of roads are reasonably clear, the council doesn’t give a shit about congestion. Obviously it’s possible to use it as a revenue stream, but if that’s their intention then they’re utter morons for choosing such a small and ill-defined group as their target. Again, Captain Spin faceplants for suggesting that it’s needed to pay for stuff, but that is probably just a reflection of the political need to continuously produce money from nowhere.

    “Consultation”, which is to say focus groups, are by necessity random. If the participants are largely self-selecting then you get severely distorted results, much (in fact) as tends to happen in elections: people who hate something make their voices heard, they make petitions, they demonstrate; people who love something (or would hate the opposite) don’t bother.

    Yes, it’s overwhelmingly likely that only the city’s voters will have been considered as eligible for consultation, and obviously that excludes the people who would be most affected: people who live on farms in the middle of nowhere. Plus of course, quite a lot of people who would be somewhat affected. The city council would actually have to be spectacularly incompetent to allow people who they DON’T represent to directly influence policy; rather, incoming workers are a useful resource which it’s generally in the city’s interests to retain. That means it’d be sensible to find out what the affected workers think, but the actual decision of what to do would have to be a step further removed.

    Paranoia about “levy leak” isn’t reasonable justification for any position. This isn’t extra tax on petrol we’re talking about: there’s no reason why it would be natural for medium-to-large businesses to penalise their workers for parking any more than they already do (and since they do already pay through the arse, relatively speaking, if they have their own parking, there’s already as much reason to penalise said workers as could be needed). I’d expect that for any but the most petty of companies the only effect would be to make the city somewhat less desirable for future relocation.

    And, of course, the intended effect will be that some larger car parks become freed up for shopper use; however, that seems like a rather naive expectation.

  2. Ayup Jim; how does me parking at Boots prevent shoppers from spending their credit-crunched budget? 😉

  3. JimJim

    Park and ride, my friend. Park and ride.

  4. You have great skill with words Al. Very powerful and well considered challenges 🙂

  5. RMT JOE

    can someone explain to me how BUS and TRAIN drivers will get to work first thing in the morning if they have to rely on BUSES and TRAINS to get to work? Public transport workers should be exempt from this ill conceived tax, The Councill may say that this levy is not forced to be passed down from the managment to the workforce but we all know that in reality it will be workers who have to pay it, whether by wage cuts or freezes or just by being forced to pay for a parking permit for their workplace.
    WHY can the cost of trams not be taken out of the extortionate car parking costs in the city center car parks?
    If the council was realy concerned about inner city congestion WHY oh WHY was Trinity square car park rebuilt? why was Huntinton st car park Built????
    Double standards me thinks.
    I will be lobbying my local MP about this ridiculous Tax. Please support me and do likewise. Thank you. JOE GALEA.
    Branch secretary, Notts and Derbys Bus branch. RMT.

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