Select Committee on Transport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20 - 39)



Chris Grayling

  20. What is the total cost to Nottingham business going to be of the charge?
  (Ms Flack) The Levy charge starts off at £150 per space per year, or about 70 pence per day.

  21. The total revenue you expect to raise from Nottingham business?
  (Ms Flack) The total net revenue is along the lines of £80 million over ten years.

  22. So £8 million per year?
  (Ms Flack) It does not work quite like that because the Levy will be increased over time, but it is £80 million over the ten years.

  23. What assessment have you done of the likely cost in terms of lost investment and lost jobs, because, by definition, if we remove £8 million a year—or whatever the figure may be—from businesses in a town the size of Nottingham, it cannot but have an impact on jobs and investments simply because the businesses no longer have the money to spend on other things.
  (Ms Flack) I am not sure that I would agree with that.

  24. It stands to reason. If you take money away from a business in taxation, it has less money to spend on employing someone or investing. That is basic arithmetic. The question is, how much is that cost?
  (Ms Flack) Even if you accept that then Nottingham is a growing city and has been one of the fastest growing cities in the country over the past ten years, it is projected for something like thirty to forty thousand new jobs over the next ten years. It is really only because Nottingham is successful at the moment in attracting jobs and inward investment that the city council feels that it is possible to manage that success—if you like—by generating some money to do transport improvements, to encourage more people to come in. We do not want to stop that happening at all; we want to encourage more.

  25. That implies that you have not looked in detail at the actual likely consequences in terms of business investment. You are simply assuming the city will grow. You have not really looked in detail at the actual impact on businesses and what decisions may be taken as a result.
  (Ms Flack) We have had a study done by the University of Oxford which did show that the long term impact of the Workplace Parking Levy was actually favourable in economic terms. The way that the study was done was by interviewing movers and shakers within the city and their opinions were that the economic benefit would actually be positive.

  Chris Grayling: So what proportion of Nottingham business do you estimate—you will not be able to give exact figures—have been supportive in the plan compared to opposed?


  26. Can you give us a note on that? Did you want to comment on that, Councillor?
  (Councillor Edwards) Just the point that when you look at the costs it does kind of highlight that somehow firms are not giving detailed figures—or general figures even—on the costs of congestion. And I think that is the thing where I do not entirely agree with the tone of your question because there is that sense of not giving any allowance for what is congestion going to cost if you do not do anything. The more jobs that we are getting in Nottingham, we have had a relatively low level of car ownership for the city, but we think that as people get more work and become more prosperous there will be more car ownership. We need to do something to make sure that those cars do not congest the city and then actually be an obstacle to further investment and further economic growth.

Mr Donohoe

  27. Is it the businesses that are actually paying or is it the worker?
  (Ms Flack) The employer is charged. It is up to the employer whether they pay the Levy themselves or whether they pass it on to the user of the space.

  28. What is your experience to date?
  (Ms Flack) A survey that we have had done shows that relatively few employers would pass the charge on, but those are likely to be the bigger employers. So, about forty per cent of the parking spaces would be paid for by the user and the other sixty per cent by the employer.

  29. So it is the case then that it is the worker that is paying in forty per cent of cases?
  (Ms Flack) Yes.

Clive Efford

  30. Could you just say something about the analysis of the costs of the comparative schemes. In the evidence that we have been given, we have been told that you have estimated that the cost of implementing road charging would cost something in the region of £70 million to administer, whereas the scheme you are proposing would cost something like £8.6 million. I wonder if you could just explain how your reinforcement process will work and why it is so much cheaper to implement a workplace charging scheme.
  (Ms Flack) Because the Workplace Parking Levy simply is an administrative process. It does not require any infra structural works on roads apart from parking restraint and it does not require the technology that a road user charging scheme would need. It is simply a management process so the costs are very low in comparison.

  31. So are these figures that we have here set-up costs or are they the actual on-going annual running costs?
  (Ms Flack) If you are looking at the table, it is both set-up costs and on-going costs.

  32. Can I ask you to comment just for the record on the comparison of the traffic reduction impacts of the two separate schemes in Nottingham. In evidence that I have heard elsewhere, supporting congestion charging in London, it has been suggested that a workplace charging scheme would have less impact on traffic reduction than the scheme that you are proposing.
  (Ms Flack) The Workplace Parking Levy has less impact on congestion than a road user charging scheme because it affects less cars. So, by the nature of it, we are only charging commuter cars, therefore it is bound to have less effect on congestion. In Nottingham congestion is generally caused by commuter cars so it is more appropriate for Nottingham.

Mr Stevenson

  33. Because you have opted for this workplace charging model, does that mean that you have ruled out for the foreseeable future congestion charging?
  (Ms Flack) Road user charging. No, we have not ruled it out. In fact, a feasibility study was done recently on road user charging in Nottingham—which is where this table comes from—and the city council considered that study and decided that it would continue to review what happens with road user charging around the country and particularly whether the Government brings in a standard for road user charging. But, for the time being, the city council would not want to be a pilot for road user charging because of the cost and risk, but is willing to continue with Workplace Parking Levy possibly for a temporary period and because it is relatively cheap and easy to bring in and to take out.

Mrs Ellman

  34. I would like to ask Durham initially, are you meeting the needs of disabled?
  (Mr Elphick) Yes, we have had detailed discussions with disabled groups whilst we were preparing the scheme and there are specific arrangements in place for the disabled. They cannot take their cars onto the Peninsula without paying the charge generally, but we have put in a very frequent new bus service which uses low floor, easy access buses through various parts of the city which are providing not only a service to the Peninsula but elsewhere in the town centre for those that know it. On top of that, part of the charge income will be used to subsidise the shopmobility scheme which runs right in the centre next to the Saddler Street road itself and the shopping area. On top of that, if someone is severely disabled or there are other special circumstances perhaps, they could make prior arrangements to get access free of charge. There are arrangements for people to ring up if there are special requirements for things like funerals at the cathedral or other services; obviously we would make special arrangements for them.

  35. Have you encountered any unanticipated difficulties in operating this scheme?
  (Mr Elphick) No, not so far. Obviously this scheme has only been running since the first of October so it is relatively new. I am sure you will have seen the press coverage; there has been quite a lot of that. The traffic has reduced by 90 per cent.


  36. Nine-0.
  (Mr Elphick) Nine-0. Again, the numbers we are talking about are relatively small. The initial flows that we had in that street, which is a narrow, one-way street with traffic controlled by traffic signals, was about three thousand a day. But it was mixing with about seventeen thousand pedestrians, so there was quite a lot of conflict, environmental problems, road safety problems. Of those three thousand, two thousand were anticipated to come in during the charge period which is from ten to four. The average daily flow coming in now is two hundred.

  37. Have you looked at the number of pedestrians? Have they gone up?
  (Mr Elphick) We have not had a chance to do that yet. Obviously, as part of the monitoring, we did a survey prior to the scheme going in which is where those previous figures come from and we will be doing that afterwards. We have done both vehicular and pedestrian surveys and opinion surveys as well and we will be repeating those in a little while. I think, like a lot of traffic schemes, it needs to be left in for two or three months rather than weeks before you actually assess it.

Mrs Ellman

  38. What has this meant for public transport?
  (Mr Elphick) There has been a big improvement, in fact, in many ways. As part of the scheme we had to be sure that we had made alternative means of access to the Peninsula area. To do that we purchased two new mini buses which are low floor and have a customised paint on them which makes them quite noticeable round the town centre. They are running a ten-minute service into the Peninsula area from the railway station, bus station, car parks. Actually, we are finding that people are using them not just to go up to the cathedral or the Peninsula, but also to go to other parts of the town centre. It is a cross-town service. Fifty pence a day and you can get on and off as much as you like.

  39. How are you going to monitor the scheme?
  (Mr Elphick) Basically, as I said before, the fundamental thing is the traffic flow which is significantly down. We will obviously be doing opinion surveys; the press are doing those for us at the moment and most of it is extremely favourable. We did an awful lot of consultation beforehand. I would say that we have been drip-feeding the idea for three or four years now. Generally there is public support. You will always get people who are against it, but the vast majority of people, I think, if you ask them, think it was the right thing to do to put some sort of control on the Peninsula.
  (Councillor Ross) There was a random survey done of people on the street yesterday for the local televison and I would say that the vast majority—apart from the odd exception—accepted that it was a move forward. I would just add to what Mr Elphick has said as well about this, this rides on Durham starting in around August 1996 and working forward. We have put three controlled parking zones in streets around the city centre, moving to the fourth one. Again, it is with intensive consultation and just meeting with people who want just to drive into Marks and Spencers, if you like, and the vast majority of people are very supportive. We have worked continuously with the major organisations, the University, the Dean and Chapter, the District Council, the Police, the Chamber of Trade. They have been met on countless occasions in moving forward. I think the next stage now that the city plan has been announced as being accepted this last week, then we have three areas which have been confirmed as park and ride on the outskirts of the city.

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