Scotland

Workplace parking tax criticised by police officers' union

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Controversial plans for a workplace parking tax could risk the safety of police, a union has claimed.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) - the body representing rank-and-file officers - hit out after the proposals that could see motorists taxed for parking at work failed to include an exemption for police officers.

The Greens want the measure included in the Scottish government's budget.

They argue it will reduce transport emissions.

'Cavalier manner'

Calum Steele, SPF general secretary, said: "It is difficult to comprehend how any politician could support a proposal that increases risks to the safety and security of police officers.

"The reality of the threat against police officers is real and ought not to be ignored in such a cavalier manner."

The Scottish Greens have lodged a series of amendments to the Transport Bill, which is currently going through Holyrood, that would allow councils to bring in a workplace parking levy.

These set out exemptions to the charge for hospitals, NHS premises and hospices, as well as for disabled parking spaces.

Local authorities would have to publish and consult on proposals before going ahead with such a scheme.

The Greens believe the measure is needed to help reduce transport emissions, by encouraging more people to ditch the car for their commute into work.

The SPF fears if the police have to pay a charge for parking spaces it provides for officers and civilian employees, this will take "sizeable chunks" of cash out of what is "an already insufficient budget".

'Thorough consultation'

Mr Steele said: "Police Scotland is a national organisation. It was established by parliament to save money and improve access to service. Since its creation it has had its budget slashed and the service struggles to meet demand."

Further reductions in the money the force has to spend on policing "make it more likely police services will retrench even further and our communities will also be less safe as a consequence", he added.

"Who could have imagined the Scottish Parliament would have chosen the increasing of risk of harm to police officers and the public alike would be how it chose to commemorate its 20th anniversary."

Scottish Greens transport spokesman John Finnie, an ex-policeman, said: "I am somewhat surprised at the response from my former colleagues at the SPF to my workplace parking levy amendment, it suggests they haven't read it.

"If any council decides to use this power they would be obliged to carry out a thorough consultation, and I would expect the SPF would be very interested in responding then."

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