Car scheme may hit staff pockets

August 17, 2001

A government initiative to raise money to improve city transport could cost university staff across the country millions of pounds, Nottingham University chiefs have warned.

Local authorities have been invited by the government to introduce a workplace car-parking levy to help them cover the cost of upgrading public transport and easing city centre congestion.

Major employers, including large firms, hospitals, universities and local authorities themselves, will be expected to either foot the bill or pass on the cost to their staff.

In Nottingham, the city council is proposing a levy beginning at £150 a parking space a year, rising to £350 over seven years.

The university has estimated that the levy would mean finding at least an extra £750,000 a year either from university coffers or as deductions from the wages of staff who park on campus.

Alternatives to the levy suggested by university officials, such as city centre road tolls or a monorail to connect campuses, have been ruled out by the council.

Christopher Strong, the university's assistant director of estates, said other universities located in or near cities were likely to be facing the same issue.

He said: "The university's main campus is not in the city centre, so we do not feel we should be subject to such a charge.

"It is unlikely the university would be able to cover the cost of the levy, so it would have to be passed on to staff, who drive in to work from a wide area. We want the council to look again at the alternatives."

Graham Chapman, leader of Nottingham city council, said the university's main campus was located on the city ring road, which was where most of the traffic congestion occurred. Alternatives to the levy were either impractical or too expensive, he said.

"Nobody likes paying this charge, but someone has to cover the cost and these are modest prices.

"The university would like to have its cake and eat it, but so far it has failed to come up with an intellectually sustainable argument against the scheme," he added.

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