Police fear workplace parking levy will ‘increase risks’ to officers
The Scottish Green proposals for the charge include exemptions only for hospitals, NHS premises, hospices, and disabled parking spaces.
Controversial plans for a workplace parking levy could risk the “safety and security” of police, the body representing rank-and-file officers has claimed.
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) hit out after the proposals – being put forward by the Greens as part of their budget deal with the Scottish Government – failed to include an exemption for police officers.
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.”
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 Calum Steele, Scottish Police Federation
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.
But the proposals have come under fire from the other opposition parties at Holyrood, with Scottish Tories raising fears that commuters could be forced to pay as much as £500 a year to park at their place of work.
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.
— Scottish Greens (@scotgp) May 8, 2019
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”.
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 cash 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.”
Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said it is “hard to think of a policy that is more hated than the SNP’s car park tax”.
He added: “Police Scotland has already endured significant upheaval, cuts to budgets, and now their members face a tax for turning up to work.
“Obviously police officers work anti-social hours and will not be able to use public transport during those hours.
“This is yet another giant slap in the face from the SNP, for police officers who regularly risk their own safety for ours.”