Transform Scotland welcomed Sue Flack to the Edinburgh City Chambers on Thursday 11 October to deliver a talk on: ‘Workplace Parking Levy in Practice: Experience in Nottingham and Elsewhere.’ Sue’s talk reflected on her experiences on setting up the Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) in Nottingham and was followed by a Q&A which also included Professor Tom Rye from Edinburgh Napier University.
WPL in Nottingham
Sue broke down the reasons for setting up a WPL in Nottingham. Transport officers found that congestion was only a significant problem in the city during peak commuter times and so they agreed to target private car demand management only at these times, thus selecting a WPL over a congestion charge or other alternatives. The key features of the Nottingham’s WPL were:
• Operates within City Council administrative boundary (25,000 liable spaces)
• Charge applies to employers with more than 10 commuter parking places. Only commuters, not customers (£402pa 2018/19)
• Up to employers to decide whether to charge car commuters (8 out of 10 biggest employers pass on, 50% spaces)
• Some discounts and exemptions (emergency services, NHS frontline, Blue Badge holders)
• Extensive business support package.
For this to work Sue noted there had to be substantial complimentary measures to offer commuters an alternative to driving to work, including: car clubs and bike hire, travel planning support, and integrated ticketing for public transport.
Has it worked and how was it done:
In Nottingham the WPL scheme led to a significant modal shift to public transport (total journeys up 15% since 2004) and in walking and cycling; a 33% reduction in carbon emissions since 2005; and has raised over £53 million of revenue which has been reinvested in the city’s transport infrastructure. Sue argued this process is replicable within shorter timescales and noted that accurately defining the vision of the policy and strong political leadership were key to implementing Nottingham’s WPL and would be fundamental to other areas trying to follow suit.
Finally, Sue reflected on what, with hindsight, would be the ideal version of a WPL. Sue argued that we should license all private parking spaces and create exemptions based on the needs of each Local Authority, and that the coordination and approval of schemes should be devolved to a local level.