1 February 2018

Is a car park levy the way to reduce emissions from the daily commuteHow do you commute to work?

For many people in out-of-town locations there is little option but to drive in. Of course, this means more cars on the road and, ultimately, more congestion.

Unfortunately the latest figures show we’re reaching illegal levels of pollution in some areas of the country and Manchester isn’t performing well when it comes to emissions. So, what’s the solution?

One of the proposals is a car park levy that some claim to be ‘worse than the congestion charge’. Whilst the details are unconfirmed, there have been suggestions that the ‘commuting tax’ would reflect one from Nottingham City Council.

It’s rumoured that that would mean a charge of £400 or so per parking space, per year, applying to anywhere with more than 10 car parking spaces.

For us, an out-of-town campus, that would mean around £127,000 a year just for having car parking spaces. Whilst no one can deny the absolute necessity of reducing pollution and emissions, I don’t think this is the way to go about it.

As an environmentally conscious business, we offset all of our carbon including our team’s commute. We also only use green energy to power all of our activities. Equally, we encourage cycling to work with our Cycle-to-Work scheme and often hold breakfasts for cyclists or runners who commute in that way.

However, the fact remains that there is little option for many of our team. We are too far out to walk from city centre train or tram stations, and the bus routes aren’t comprehensive enough to reach here from other areas of the city. Public transport just doesn’t cater for us at the moment.

It’s a commute catch 22

It’s a catch 22 for the council. We need the public transport first before penalising people for driving when they have other options. Equally, they need to fund the upgrade of public transport to meet increased demand and need.

What’s the answer? Perhaps we need to be more creative about it. Encouraging car shares could be a good starting point. I don’t have the solution, but I do know that slapping another tax on businesses – particularly ahead of Brexit – is a bad idea. It could be disastrous for smaller firms. And, I would never consider passing that charge onto our team so it would mean less investment in other areas like the community and our team.

A potential charge like that makes Manchester unappealing for businesses who could put that extra investment into affording more expensive property in a location with better public transport, like London.

It’s certainly been a controversial talking point this week and I would love to know your thoughts.

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