East Dunbartonshire Council leader accused of hypocrisy in parking tax row

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The Tory joint leader of East Dunbartonshire Council said he has no intention of supporting a workplace parking levy in the area.

But he has been accused of “hypocrisy” by local Green MSP Ross Greer.

Local SNP politicians have also hit out at Conservative Councillor Andrew Polson - accusing him of “misleading people for political gain.”

Proposals for the levy were included in the recent Scottish budget agreement between the SNP and Greens.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney told MSPs it would be up to individual councils whether to introduce it.

Under the proposals, councils would be able to charge employers an annual tax for every parking space they provide for employees. Employers could then choose to foot the bill themselves – or pass on some or all of the cost to staff.

Councillor Polson said: “The car parking tax is yet another attempt to raid people’s wage packets from the SNP and the Greens.

“If they think East Dunbartonshire Council will do their dirty work, they have another thing coming. I have no intention of supporting any move to introduce this ridiculous tax.”

Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said: “This would have been a hammer blow to hard working employees and families across the region and is a completely misguided proposal. Hopefully, SNP councillors will send a strong message that they too do not want it introduced in this region”.

In response, Bearsden MSP Rona Mackay said: “East Dunbartonshire Council’s Tory and Lib Dem coalition asked for more powers to introduce local measures to raise money, and that is exactly what they got from the Finance Secretary. Just last month they agreed to a COSLA leaders response to the Governance Review that included a workplace parking levy as something they wanted councils to be able to consider.

“Mr Polson knows that this will be a matter for councillors to decide at a local level based on local circumstances. His interim party leader wrote to the First Minister in 2016 urging her to re-empower councils to take decisions for themselves.

“It’ll be Mr Polson’s choice whether he wants to introduce it – nobody’s forcing him. Trying to make political gain out of it just misleads the people of Scotland.”

SNP group leader, Cllr Gordan Low said “The workplace parking levy isn’t something the SNP group would be proposing for East Dunbartonshire. Cllr Polson and his coalition colleagues have repeatedly demanded more powers to make local decisions. It’s ultimately their decision how they choose to use the powers.”

Ross Greer MSP, said: “This is pure hypocrisy from the same Tories who increased car parking charges in East Dunbartonshire last year.

“We are not implementing any parking levy, we are giving councils like East Dunbartonshire - who have demanded more local powers - the opportunity to make that decision themselves.

“Given East Dunbartonshire is run by Tories, they should know that. Nottingham’s workplace parking levy, with revenue invested in local transport, has reduced pollution and congestion, and improved public transport, showing that this works in cities.

“If it won’t work for East Dunbartonshire, it shouldn’t and won’t be implemented here but who are we to tell councillors in Edinburgh or Dundee what to do?”

“What Councillor Polson doesn’t mention is that, unlike the charges his council implemented, this levy would apply to large employers, not employees. This power has existed since 2000 in England and in nine years of government there the Tories have not scrapped it.

“That alone shows this for what it is, a political stunt from a party which proposed nothing but tax cuts for the rich during budget negotiations. While Conservatives demanded a £500m cut in public services, Greens were yet again securing millions of pounds back in to East Dunbartonshire’s budget for schools, care services and libraries.”