As progress on the new tram line continues, Nottingham City Council is facing criticism over one of its key sources of funding – the new Workplace Parking Levy, which has been dubbed the ‘tram tax’. Under the scheme, businesses with more than ten parking spaces will be required to pay a levy of £253 – rising to £306 by 2015 – for each parking space made available to employees. It was initially planned to begin in 2010 but has changed to 2012 due to the current economic situation. The levy is set to raise £12m in its first year.
The response from businesses has been less than favourable, however, with the Federation of Small Businesses stating that the levy could have “potentially disastrous consequences for the local economy.” The Notts Chamber of Commerce is preparing to legally challenge the imposition of the levy, arguing that the move, which is backed by the University of Nottingham, “is all about raising money and will do nothing to relieve congestion.”
Bosses of pharmaceutical chain Boots – whose headquarters are in Nottingham – are considering relocating their 4,500 parking spaces a short distance outside of the city limits to save over £500,000 in levy payments, a response labelled “churlish” by city council deputy leader Graham Chapman. A council spokesperson pointed out that the cost of the levy represents approximately 0.0000005% of Boot’s annual profit (Boots make more than £1billion profit every year).
The levy, along with £530m of government investment, is set to fund a redevelopment of the railway station, the tram extension and the Link bus network, while reducing congestion on city streets. Councillor Jane Urquhart argued that “this will help steer Nottingham out of a recession by creating jobs and bringing in much needed new investment.”