SNP Councillors in Moray have ruled out introducing the Workplace Parking Levy in the region.
Council Leader Graham Leadbitter says that while there is significant interest in a Tourist Tax, which he believes could have a ‘massive benefit’ for Moray, there is no obvious benefit from the introduction of a Workplace Parking Levy, saying it is more suited to larger cities, with extensive public transport infrastructure.
The SNP Councillor has also attacked what he called the ‘dishonest’ campaign being run by Conservative Councillors on the issue, which ignores the fact that it is entirely up to individual councils whether the levy is introduced in their area.
He also alleged that an online version of the Conservative petition which urged people to “sign our petition and make them think again” also stated in the small print that “we will not share your details with anyone outside of the Conservative Party” – meaning that their petition could not be presented to the Scottish Government or indeed to anyone else without the party breaking strict data protection laws.
Commenting further Cllr Leadbitter said: “While I very much welcome more choice on revenue raising for Councils in Scotland, clearly those additional powers also come with responsibility and Councils need to consider what is right for their own areas.
“The purpose of a Workplace Parking Levy is to take in money that can be reinvested in public transport to provide alternative means of travel. I can certainly see the benefits of that in larger cities, which have public transport options day and night. They also have park and ride options for commuters, so there is obviously an element of choice. That choice is not the same in more rural areas like Moray, where it would be impossible to provide easy access to public transport for people living in rural areas who commute into our towns.
“Moray Conservative councillors are actively campaigning against tax raising powers for Moray Council, which is basically saying ‘We’re not capable of taking decisions for Moray’. If that’s their view they should make way for those who are capable and stop talking down the role of Local Government.
“I welcome the choice to use additional powers but one of the most important decisions you can make is when not to use a power. In this particular case SNP Councillors do not believe this would be the right choice for Moray.
“There is a much bigger debate to be had on Tourist Tax however, as that has the potential to generate millions to support tourism infrastructure, promote our region and support major events in Moray.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross thinks the decision by the SNP-led administration of Moray Council not to take forward the workplace parking tax proposals put forward by the Scottish Government is the right one, and is asking for the tourist tax to be also ruled out.
Mr Ross said: “While I welcome the decision locally by the SNP not to introduce the car park tax, it shows how out of step the SNP Scottish Government are when their own party at a local level are distancing themselves from these plans. What we now need is for the SNP administration on Moray Council to take a similar approach on the tourist tax because it is clear from the Federation of Small Businesses, local accommodation providers and many others how damaging this tax would be for this crucial sector in Moray.
“The SNP Scottish Government received almost £1 billion extra revenue from Westminster at the most recent budget and they should concentrate on adequately funding local councils rather than expecting people to pay higher taxes for receiving fewer services.”