A Brighton man has criticised a 20 per cent rise in the price of residents’ parking permits for high-emission cars as a stealth tax on families.
Martin Cooper said that the £33-a-year increase would hit some of the poorest hardest even though they had previously been given official encouragement to buy diesel cars.
Mr Cooper, 52, of Aberdeen Road, said: “The first I knew of it was when I opened my renewal letter, which informed me that my annual residents’ parking pass had risen from £130 a year to £163 because I drive a ‘high-emissions’ car.”
The letter, from Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “If your vehicle produces more than 166g/km of CO2 emissions then an excess is applied to the cost of the permit for ALL vehicles (petrol and diesel).”
The letter said that residents with vehicles that produce less than 110g/km of CO2 emissions qualify for a discount and will pay £65 a year while residents in permit zones L (West Hove), S (Hanover and Elm Grove), U (St Luke’s) and W (Wish Road) will only pay £125 (high emissions) or £50 a year (low).
Zones hit by emissions rises include Craven Vale, Moulsecoomb, Kemp Town and Mr Cooper’s zone (Preston Circus).
Councillor Gill Mitchell, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “The council has a discretion to set charges to reflect its transport policies.
“In some parts of Brighton and Hove, levels of nitrogen oxides exceed legal limits. As part of a range of measures to improve air quality, such as the expansion of the city’s ‘low emission zone’ and a significant expansion of on-street EV (electric vehicle) charging points, parking charges can help to encourage less-polluting travel options and reduce emissions.”
Mr Cooper said: “I drive a diesel because I was led to believe it was the ‘greener alternative’. Now I’m stuck with it.
“I would love to drive a nice new electric or hybrid car but I can’t afford one. The council’s policy will rake in a fortune but only hit families and the poorer members of our city.
“I have to commute to an industrial estate with no public transport links and rarely drive at weekends, yet I’m paying more while buses, lorries and others driving up and down Lewes Road pay nothing towards this back-door congestion charge.
“I didn’t want this parking scheme in the first place and now I have to find even more money every year – and just before Christmas.
“A congestion charge should hit the people causing the congestion. This is another cash cow for a council that doesn’t give a damn about its own residents.”
Councillor Lee Wares, opposition spokesman on the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said that the Conservative Group “did not support the increase”.
He said that while “everything that could be done to improve air quality should be done”, the 25 per cent increase on high-emission vehicles was in his view “discriminatory and unfair and only targeting a very select group of residents in certain zones, specifically those that could not afford to buy a more modern car”.
Councillor Wares likened the increase to a “permit pollution tax that affected a small group of residents rather than commercial operators passing through the city, visitors to the city and those outside controlled parking zones that similarly had high-emission vehicles”.
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “I am committed to pushing the government to do more to make choices easier, such as accessing lower-emission vehicles.”
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