Martin Whitfield MSP and Cllr Norman Hampshire have slammed the SNP-Green government’s “commuter tax”, following the publication of legislation introducing the Workplace Parking Levy.
The Transport Minister confirmed earlier this month that the regulations setting up the controversial scheme have been published, with the laws coming into place from 4 March.
The scheme would allow Councils to force workers to cough up hundreds of pounds for parking spaces at their workplace and is set to hit thousands of East Lothian residents who commute to Edinburgh and elsewhere.
When the scheme was first debated, the SNP and the Greens voted down a series of proposed exemptions from Scottish Labour – meaning no key frontline workers other than NHS staff will be exempt.
The party criticised the decision to press ahead with the unpopular scheme in the midst of a cost of living crisis, accusing the Scottish government of “bare-faced hypocrisy” in their transport policy.
East Lothian Council’s Labour administration has no plans to make use of the levy here.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“This SNP commuter tax is a shameless attack on workers’ pay packets. It will hit countless frontline workers who kept us going through the pandemic. It beggars belief that the SNP are pressing ahead with these misguided plans in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
“It is bare-faced hypocrisy to punish people for relying on cars after letting our public transport system collapse. We need to reduce car use by building an affordable, reliable and accessible public transport – not by forcing people to pay for the privilege of going to work.
“For years, the SNP Government has failed to deliver the modern, reliable rail services East Lothian needs to give more commuters here an alternative to using their cars. If the Minister is serious about tackling the climate crisis and helping people leave the car at home, he can start by reversing his cuts to ScotRail services and stopping his own rip off rail fare hike later this month.”
Cllr Norman Hampshire, Labour Leader of East Lothian Council, said:
“This scheme was never going to be helpful in East Lothian and is even more nonsensical now in the midst of the pandemic and the economic damage it has caused. The levy will only serve to hit local commuters in the pocket at a time when they’re already facing a growing cost of living crisis.
“There are many low paid working people who work unsocial hours like the hospitality industry that means there are limited public transport options available to get them to and from their work.
“We want to support employers to locate in East Lothian and the Workplace Parking Levy would just be a disincentive to that. We hope that by not using the scheme here we can encourage new businesses to come to East Lothian and help boost our economy and jobs.”