Councils urged to consider workplace parking tax by minister
Welsh local councils have been urged to consider introducing a levy on workplace parking to cut congestion.
Transport Minister Ken Slates said Wales' car dependency was "extreme" and moving to more sustainable forms of transport was "absolutely necessary".
In Nottingham, the first ten parking spaces are free with employers charged £415 a year for each one after that.
But Conservative AM Nick Ramsay warned such a scheme could penalise those who can least afford it.
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Mr Skates was speaking in a debate in the Senedd on Wednesday led by fellow Labour AM Jenny Rathbone, who called for workplace parking levies.
Ms Rathbone said that with Nottingham's scheme, introduced in 2012, eight out of 10 companies had passed the charge on to their staff.
Disabled parking spaces, front-line emergency services or vehicles being used for the transport of goods to and from their business were exempt, as was staff parking at hospitals.
"The impact has been fantastic," she said.
"The air quality has improved. Lots of emissions have gone down and it's generated £44m in the last seven years, ring-fenced for transport projects.
"Nottingham bus and tram use per head is the highest in the country outside London."
The current charge, of £8 a week or £415 a year, "encourages its drivers to consider other modes of transport or at the very least car sharing", Ms Rathbone added.
However her motion was not agreed by assembly members.
Just 12 backed it, 14 voted against and 20 abstained in the vote.
Mr Skates had praised Nottingham's approach during the debate, saying all councils in England and Wales had the power to bring in such a levy under the Transport Act 2000.
"That particular scheme has raised £9m in revenue," he said.
"It costs around about £500,000 to operate, and the net revenue has been invested in transformational tram and bus provision for the city.
"I would most certainly therefore urge local authorities to consider utilising the act to reduce congestion in urban places, and in so doing to raise investment for public transport and active travel infrastructure."
Plaid Cymru's Llyr Gruffydd said any levy should be "proportionate to an employee's salary" and the "cost and practicalities of public transport" should be taken into account in any scheme.
But Monmouth AM Mr Ramsay said that in rural areas "public transport is often less than adequate" and people "often feel they have no alternative but to rely on the motor car".
"I think we're not at the point yet where I would say that this charge would achieve the aims that we would like to see, and would avoid penalising some of the people who can least afford it," he said.
A workplace parking levy was a "terrible idea", according to independent assembly member Michelle Brown.
"By adding new taxes and levies, Wales becomes a less attractive place to start or bring your business," she said.
"This proposal won't reduce congestion or carbon emissions unless, as it may well do, it leads to less employment in Wales."
Welsh ministers "should be investing in alternative transport for workers and improving town planning", she added.