A TAX on workers in Scotland who drive to work and park has been slammed as ‘totally ill-thought-out’ by Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack.
The Westminster representative said that he felt compelled to speak out on the move by the Scottish Government because of deep concerns expressed to him by constituents since the plan was revealed.
Details emerged during the Holyrood Budget process when SNP Ministers last week agreed to take forward the parking tax concept to secure Green Party support to vote their financial plans through.
Some estimates put the potential annual cost per vehicle space at more than £400 per year.
Mr Jack said: “Whatever way this is presented, a parking tax on workers using their car to go to their place of employment would be outrageous in a rural area like Dumfries and Galloway.
“This totally ill-thought-out plan would be economically damaging and disruptive, particularly to small businesses, whether the bill falls on the employer or employee.
“The money ultimately comes from the customers and if prices go up, sales are likely to fall, and that could mean fewer jobs.”
Mr Jack also pointed out that public sector vacancies in the region could also become harder to fill as the charges would also apply to vital roles like school teachers.
He said: “It appears the parking levy option would be applied by local authorities as an income stream for themselves.
“That means money generated through their own employees’ parking would end up being moved between departments for no gain but creating extra administrative costs.”
The former member of the UK Treasury Select Committee pointed out that while the plan was being presented as a green measure to cut car use there was little alternative in the south of Scotland.
He said: “We only have limited public transport and in many towns on-street and public parking are already under intense strain and the situation could become worse under these measures.
“I fear the end result could be even less public parking spaces available as workers use spaces elsewhere and if employers reduce the number of workplace spaces they offer.”
Mr Jack added that while local authorities would make the final decision on imposing such a charge, tight council budgets meant the threat would continue to hang over firms adding uncertainty.
The Scottish Conservatives group at Holyrood plan to resist moves to have the tax introduced through the upcoming Transport (Scotland) Bill.