Following publication of its Business Priorities manifesto last week, the Chamber has secured a cross-party consensus against the introduction of a workplace parking levy (WPL) in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
The new Holyrood legislation, widely opposed by the business community, allows local authorities to decide whether to impose an annual tax on car parking spaces provided by employers.
AGCC’s manifesto challenged all parties standing on May 5 to recognise that the WPL system was ill-suited to interdependent Aberdeen city and shire and that local authorities should instead focus on investment in better transport infrastructure.
The Chamber has now secured confirmation from Conservative, SNP, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups in both local authorities that they are against the proposals — meaning that they are unlikely to become a reality regardless of the outcome of the local elections.
AGCC’s Policy Adviser Fergus Mutch described the move as “a victory for common sense”.
“While we want to see local authorities empowered to make good decisions for the communities they serve, a workplace parking levy could set business recovery back at a critical moment,” he said.
“The North-east of Scotland is such an interdependent region — with 100-mile round trips a daily reality for work, shopping and leisure.
“The focus of policymakers should be on the much-needed upgrades to infrastructure, investment in public transport and EV charging points to make low carbon travel options more attractive, not demonising motorists who need to get from A to B.”
The news has been welcomed by both Chamber members and the wider North-east business community.
Callum McDonald, Managing Partner at Raeburn Christie Clark & Wallace, a solicitors firm with offices in Aberdeen, Banchory, Stonehaven and Inverurie, said: “As a business with offices across the region we rely on our car parking facilities for partners, staff and clients, and we already pay substantial rates which are assessed in part because of our parking provision.
“Imposing further costs on businesses as we battle our way out of the pandemic while struggling with high inflationary cost increases is the last thing any sensible council should do, and it is refreshing to hear that all of the major parties support that view.”
Derren McRae, Head of Aberdeen office at CBRE, said: “For many people who live and work in the area, there are limited alternative modes of public transport to get to and from work, especially for people who have set up home in more rural locations.
“It is therefore pleasing that there is cross-party support to ensure there is to be no additional financial burden on office-based businesses or their employees at a time when we are now starting to see the economic benefits of people returning to the workplace.”