Brighton man slates 20 per cent parking permit rise for high-emission cars

Posted On 08 Dec 2018 at 8:32 pm

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.”

  1. Lawrence Reply

    I pay £130 per year to park my car in Zone O if I’m lucky enough to get a space to do so. Yet up the road from me in Shirley Drive which all have a drive and most have a garage they are parking on the grass verge. There are signs displayed saying no parking motor vehicles on the grass verge yet the residents take no notice as nobody is enforcing this! The crossover ( part of the pavement used to access their property is not for them to park on its for their access) which is also being used for free parking for them. One rule for one and one rule for another!

  2. billy Reply

    I had the same issue in Hove.
    Firstly, a rise from £130 to £163 is more like 25%, not 20%?
    But we all should be complaining here. I do understand that the government cuts have meant less state funding for our council but does that really mean the local politicians can pass on these cuts in stealth taxes, at will?
    It’s one thing to say that cars pollute and are therefore bad. But it’s another to tax the poor more than the rich. I was sent the bill for £163 for my annual parking permit, and I simply couldn’t find that amount. Can I pay monthly? No. Can I pay for six months instead? No.
    But I can pay £57 for three months. Do the maths: 4 X £57 would be even worse, at £228 for the year. What a penalty for those that can’t pay all at once!
    And this rip-off parking permit gives no guarantee of finding a parking space anywhere near my house.
    Can I afford an electric car? No.
    Do I need my vehicle for work? Yes I do.

  3. Rostrum Reply

    Stop calling it a ‘charge’ … It’s a TAX. Even more so now that it’s dependant upon emission.

  4. Jimbob Reply

    A 25.384% rise!

    Shock Horror: Council Wrings more money out of people who can’t afford to buy electric vehicles or newer low emissions cars.

  5. Martin Reply

    I’m the fella moaning in this story – and still angry!
    I’m looking into whether it is legal for the council to issue parking tickets on cars that haven’t paid the surcharge for “high emissions”. Any legal eagles out there who could help?
    The French are rioting over stuff that isn’t anywhere near as dictatorial as this council diktat.
    A Labour-led government led many of us to believe we were being green by getting a diesel, now a Labour-led council is fleecing us for it. But it’s less to do with politics and more to do with this disgraceful council (and it’s councillors with their free parking permits). When are the next elections?

    • Annoyed Reply

      I feel your pain Martin.
      I had the same “surprise” this Christmas. I run an old car, but have had it for 6 years now. Paying £130 is extortionate enough, but now 163 is completely appalling. It has nothing to do with emissions (it is a residents parking permit, not VED) and lets put it this way, if I keep the car for another 10 years, I will pay an extra £330 for the “privilege” over those 10 years. It is a lot of money to be giving away for nothing, but it is not a reason to scrap a perfectly decent car (it is not diesel in any case).
      I also wonder if this increase is legal. I looked through the minutes of the council meeting, and it says in the increases columns “0.0% increase for 2018-19” and the 25% increase is written sneakily (you could not see it if you were not looking for it specifically. Secondly, surely the 25% increase is a new charge for 2018-19, and should have been written as such on the agenda for the council meeting, yet it was not.
      I doubt that there is any legal challenge (the council does what it wants), but maybe it is possible to get a petition going. I wonder how many people actually had this 25% increase, I suspect quite a lot.
      Another disgraceful thing is how the 25% has been added in effect retrospectively. For example, if you have a 2007 registered car, you know that the VED price will remain the same (only increasing by £5-10), and the government will not increase it by 25%. If the government wanted to change the VED prices, it usually does this to newly registered cars. The council could have done the same, introduced the 25% increase to cars obtaining new permits (not renewing), that way it would put people off buying a car with a higher CO2 banding, but instead the council chose to apply this to people who already had cars which are apparently polluting.

    • Greg Reply

      Probably best getting a petition going against this rise.

      Having a permit as a local resident makes sense as it ensures you get a space and that it isn’t taken by tourists, however, simply providing id with your name and address should be sufficient for the council to issue you a permit.
      It certainly should not be a money making scheme.

      Additionally, charging visitors to park at weekends is worse than even parts of London.

      Make a petition.

  6. Stephen Crane Reply

    But a parked car emits 0% pollution.

    Strange council logic there…

  7. Tim Bennett Reply

    Congratulations to Gill Mitchel , social mobility is an increasing problem in today’s climate and that extra sur charge on parking for the poor has incentivised me to work a little harder and buy a large house and a Chelsea tractor in West Hove and pay less for parking . Long live the revolution, ooohhh Jeremmmy Corrrrbyn …

  8. MD Reply

    Has nobody noticed the other stealth change to the system of Permit Parking that will result in a number hundreds of vehicles that used to be in the low emissions category now being in the normal category. How did they do this? Very simply by lowering the previous 120g/km cut off point to 110g/km. This means that if you previously paid the discounted rate of £60 / year, the new charge will jump dramatically to £130 / year. This discounted rate was introduced to encourage drivers to buy less polluting vehicles and now that drivers have done so, the council can see that to many vehicles qualify for the discount, so they change the cut-off point so as to get more money from the already hard pressed motorist.

  9. Nick Reply

    Also they include diesel cars in the high emission band but exclude them in the low emission band? I have a low emission diesel car (105g/km) but I still have to pay £130 for the year! Selective taxation!

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