Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 18:26 UK

Government backs parking levy bid

The government has backed a workplace parking levy for Nottingham, which will help fund a £67m redevelopment of the city's railway station.

Transport minister Sadiq Khan said firms will not be charged until April 2012 because of the weak economy.

Mr Khan also pledged £530m of government money towards the city's tram extension. Plans were given conditional approval.

It will see two new routes created to the south and west of Nottingham.

This will help steer Nottingham out of a recession by creating jobs and bringing in much needed new investment
City councillor Jane Urquhart

The new routes will run from Clifton via Wilford and from Chilwell via Beeston.

Mr Khan said: "Last year 10 million people used the tram. This demonstrates that the government along with the MPs and city council are investing in the people of Nottingham - not just for today but for years to come."

City councillor Jane Urquhart added: "This is a massive boost. This will help steer Nottingham out of a recession by creating jobs and bringing in much needed new investment."

The city council can now begin to select firms to carry out the tram extension project, which is expected to open in 2014.

City businesses will need to be licensed for the workplace parking levy (WPL) from October 2011.

'Stealth tax'

The scheme, with charges rising to £350 for employers with more than 10 spaces, will also fund part of the tram extension and the Link bus network which transports workers to major employers in the city.

The Federation of Small Businesses said it was furious at what it calls a "stealth tax on business" during a recession.

Bosses at Boots have called for a public enquiry. Peter Gibson from the firm said: "This is unfair for business, this is unfair for workers who still have to park at work and it is unfair for households."

Councillor Urquhart said: "The fact that we have over two years before the WPL is implemented gives us the opportunity to work with businesses to help them develop more sustainable transport policies, encourage behavioural change and reduce congestion, which has a significant impact on business."

Work on the railway station is due to start in 2010. The project will see a new concourse built with better links to the tram, as well as a new multi-storey car park.

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