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21 February 2019 • Sarah Medcraf

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. Sarah Medcraf, CE of Moray Chamber of Commerce welcomed the decision - "I am delighted to hear that Moray Council have no plans to implement the Workplace Parking Levy in Moray Speyside. We want to promote Moray as a great place to live and work and we need to make ourselves stand out and be competitive. Many workers do not have another option to get to work except travelling by car, and penalising them for the rural nature of Moray would have been unfair. This would have essentially been another tax on business, which many cannot absorb amongst other rising costs." The SNP Councillor has also attacked 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. In a further twist it has emerged 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 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. “I do think that the Tories need to take a long hard look at themselves on this however. 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. “The small print on the petition they are asking people to sign states that they “will not share your details with anyone outside of the Conservative Party", which can only mean that they are keeping people’s details for the Conservative Party’s own political use. “The Conservatives are making an argument that they know to be utterly bogus, just to harvest people's personal details so they can bombard them with further misinformation at a later date. It’s shameful behaviour all round and if they had an ounce of honesty or integrity they would delete the data they have harvested and apologise for misinforming the public. “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.”

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