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 East Midlands: Monday October 11, 2004


Congestion charges
Nottingham are letting the local businesses foot the congestion bill

Congestion charging seems to be the way forward, and now urban areas like Nottingham and the rural region in the Peak District are to enforce a pay-as-you-drive charge. But is it such a good idea? Inside Out investigates.

Ever since London introduced the congestion charge, cities over Britain are contemplating joining the congestion train.

Nottingham is now planning to introduce a congestion charge, not for people driving into the city centre, but for all local companies with a parking lot, and the commuters parking there will have to foot the bill.

This workplace levy isn't favoured by many, but did feature in the 2002 Transport Act as one way of reducing city centre congestion.

Nottingham City Council is the only authority to implement this business-aimed congestion charge, which will charge any office with a car park per space.

The extra costs for the offices will be passed on to the commuters who use them, making them pay the congestion charge.

The idea behind the workplace levy is to introduce congestion charges for the ones who cause it, not the visitors and shoppers in Nottingham.

The fewer parking spaces the workplaces have, the cheaper it will be for the employer, although the actual charging level is yet to be set.

Off-peak drivers

Nottingham's big employer, Imperial Tobacco, argues that the 'workplace levy' is unfair.

Presenter Anne Davies
Paying for the privilege to work - Imperial Tobacco don't believe in the new congestion charges

There are two reasons for this. The plant isn't situated in Nottingham city centre, and majority of its workers work mainly shifts and then travel outside peak periods.

Roger Speakman at Imperial Tobacco says, "We don't think it's an appropriate way of dealing with congestion.

"We believe that it's a very convenient method for Nottingham City Council to raise revenue and it'd be very easy from their point of view to administer it."

Gary Smerdon-Wright with Greater Nottingham Transport Partnership believes that the congestion charge is vital in order to improve public transport.

"We need to deliver a 21st Century transport system for the city."

The London congestion charge, which was introduced in February 2003, has cut traffic by 30%, but it is not as profitable as expected.

"So if zone charging is already tried and tested in the capital, why is Nottingham's scheme so different? Could the question of revenue be influencing the city council's decision?" Inside Out's Anne Davies asks.

The first rural congestion scheme

It's not only city centres that are introducing the congestion charges. Derbyshire's Peak District sees a lot of congestion, especially round weekends and bank holidays.

Peak District National Park attracts between 16 and 20 million visitors every year and some 95% of the visitors arrive by car.

One recent August bank holiday, some 2,500 vehicles fought their way to a car park that has space for fewer than 200 cars.

Plans are to gate the route round Ladybower Reservoir and to offer visitors the choice of reaching the lake by shuttle bus or paying to drive there.

Derbyshire County Council is in charge of the congestion plans and Steven Cannon is aware of the attention the scheme is getting.

Parking charges sign
The Peak District will soon see more parked cars - or so is the plan

"This is the first congestion charge that's been looked at in a rural area, so there's a lot of interest in this scheme to see how it works."

The money raised will go towards improving public transport in the area.

The question is, how long does it take to raise the funding to provide adequate public transport? Shouldn't the alternative for motorists be in place before the county forces them out of their cars?

The date for introducing the charge at weekends and bank holidays hasn't been set yet, but it won't take long before it's a reality.

See also ...

BBC: Guide to Congestion
BBC Where I Live: Nottingham
BBC Where I Live: Derby

On the rest of the web
Peak District National Park
Lift share - The largest car sharing scheme in the UK

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

If congestion is such a problem, then where do all of our Vehicle Excise Duties,tax on fuel and MoT charges, paid to this incompetent Government go on? The reason why we have congestion is because the public transport system is crap and why? Because the monies that should have been spent improving it were squandered by this Government in privatisation campaigns.Ask John Prescott where has all this money gone???

it look's like the sheriff of nottingham has crawled out from his castle again , as if the people who work are'nt taxed enough and the police fill there coffers with our money , the elected concil intend to screw more out of us for the pleasure ?? of going to work

Faraz Choudhry
I cannot believe nobody's raising a big opposition. The Government have enough in their coffers to subsidize public transport instead of mismanaging it all on some projects unimportant and unwanted by the public despite national opposition. Unless public transport catches up with the car in terms of usability and convenience, the congestion charge won't work and will add to the bitterness at the Government from motorists. The congestion charge should not have been introduced in London at all let alone anywhere else. I call upon motorists to lobby the Government and local councils in opposition to the congestion charge. Alternatives for motorists should be in place before the county forces us out of our cars. Until then it's just another revenue raising exercise. We are paying enough for our cars already.

It was said on the programme, that no one was charging for car-parking. An East-Midlands University already charges for staff car-parking. It was suggested that the city council required this to obtain planning permission for a new building.

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