The Yorkshire Post has today reported that a parking tax is due to be introduced on the owners of larger-engined cars under an extension of a scheme to promote eco-friendly driving and cut carbon emissions in York, described as one of Yorkshire's most congested cities.
A review of the residents' parking scheme in York is looking to encourage more motorists to opt for greener cars by extending cheaper fees for smaller vehicles. The proposed overhaul also involves an £18 surcharge on the owners of gas-guzzling vehicles and would mirror the schemes already operating in Edinburgh and the London borough of Richmond. The owners of exclusive models including Lamborghinis and Ferraris as well as Range Rovers, BMW Six Series and Audi A8s will all face the new surcharges in York. York became the first authority in the country in 2004 to introduce discounted parking rates for the owners of small and less polluting vehicles.
The council provides discounts of more than 50 per cent under the city's ResPark scheme for the owners of the smallest and most environmentally-friendly vehicles, such as Smart cars but at the moment the owner of a Ford Fiesta still has to pay the same £93 annual charge as the driver of a Range Rover under the existing scheme. Households with a second car face paying a further £142 for a parking permit for the additional vehicle. Senior councillors are due to give the go-ahead on Tuesday next week for changes in the current scheme with plans to provide discounted fees for another band of lower emission vehicles, while penalising the owners of cars responsible for high emissions. The leader of the council, Councillor Andrew Waller, said: "We are looking at our options and there will need to be a consultation with the public but these schemes have been used elsewhere in the country and it is one of the many steps that the council is considering to reduce carbon emissions.
Despite the fact that manufacturers are producing cleaner cars, he went on "Transport does make a major contribution to carbon emissions, so measures should be welcomed which could also encourage manufacturers to make environmentally-friendly vehicles. While it is about changing people's travelling habits, we should also be looking to try and get solutions actually engineered into the vehicles themselves." The plans which have been drawn up will mean all cars which are electric or LPG-powered qualify for reduced charges, although a household's second or third vehicles will not be included. Surcharges are due to be applied to vehicles which fall within the J, K, L and M bands for emissions. The charges would lead to an increase in income of more than £11,000 for the 620 vehicles currently registered in the existing scheme and are due to be introduced from the start of April if they are given the go-ahead next week.
The current system in York has provoked controversy amid claims that it is not being adequately policed and too much money generated from charges is used to pay for its administration. Opposition Labour councillors claimed that the parking charges in York are the third highest in the country, after the London boroughs of Kensington and Westminster. Figures released by Labour members showed that the ResPark scheme returned a £43,000 profit in 2008/09, while more than half of its £600,000 income goes on administration costs.