Oxford workplace parking levy examined

Car park in Summertown
Image caption The council will allocate £100,000 to develop the case for a workplace parking levy

Oxford businesses could be charged for their parking spaces in a bid to reduce congestion in the city.

Oxfordshire County Council is set to spend £100,000 looking into a workplace parking levy.

Leader Ian Hudspeth said money raised by a levy would be used to improve Oxford's transport network.

Rob Lindley, managing director of Harley Davidson in Europe, based in Cowley, described it as a tax on businesses.

According to a report by Bev Hindle, acting director for environment and economy, the levy would "discourage car commuting" and "provide additional revenue for transport improvements to manage growth pressures".

The only other city in the UK to bring in similar charges is Nottingham where millions of pounds worth of charges are collected each year.

The scheme, which sees businesses with 11 or more spaces charged £375 per car, was introduced in 2012.

'Need encouragements'

Mr Hudspeth said: "Go and visit Nottingham and you'll see that business really benefits, there's less congestion in the centre of the city, and people can get in and out easier."

But Mr Lindley said: "It can be wrapped up anyway people like, the environment or congestion, but in the end it's just a tax on our business operations.

"Business rates and the cost of commercial premises in Oxford are already high. If the council was to impose such a tax Oxford becomes less competitive.

"With the UK going through Brexit and an increasing climate of uncertainty, we need to give employers, and especially employers of international businesses, encouragements to operate here, not disincentives."

Nigel Tipple, chief executive of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "I think it's important we look at the overall impact on business, and how we can work with the council to look at managing transport and movement across the city."

The council's cabinet meets on 22 November and is expected to release funds to develop the business case in time for October 2017.

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