Employers could be made to pay £550-a-year charge for every car parking space they own to raise millions of pounds to subsidise a new electric bus network in the city.
Leicester city council has indicated the potential costs to firms if it presses ahead with its radical plans for a workplace parking levy (WPL) as it embarks on the first stage of a public consultation.
Leicester could follow East Midlands neighbour Nottingham in bringing in a WPL as transport bosses see the idea as a key part of their long-term efforts to tackle congestion and air pollution.
Nottingham uses the levy to find both its tram and bus services.
The charge would be payable by businesses as well as public sector organisations, like the University of Leicester and De Montfort University and the city council itself, and could raise some £8 million-a-year, ring-fenced for spending on public transport.
Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has ruled out a tram system here arguing the expense of building it and the geography of the city mean it would not be viable.
However he is pinning his plans on using WPL cash for a new Greenline bus service serving the city centre and many more neighbourhoods than currently have bus routes.
He said: “Potentially there is a significant sum of money we can raise that allows us to create a modern, affordable, and environmentally friendly bus service which will be a genuine alternative to the private car.
“We have had discussions with business leaders and trade unions which have been encouraging.
“It has been suggested the charge could push businesses out of the city but that has not been the experience in Nottingham and we do not think it would happen here.”
The current public consultation on the WPL runs until September 17 and a detailed business case would then be drawn up.
This would define the area within Leicester covered by the charge and what organisations and companies, if any, might be exempt from paying it.
It has previously been suggested the levy might only apply to organisations within the inner ring road but the council is now actively considering including the whole city.
The council has said a WPL could potentially commence in 2023.
If the controversial scheme were to proceed, organisations liable to pay it would have to decide whether to absorb the cost themselves or pass it on to staff using the parking spaces.
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Deputy city mayor councillor Adam Clarke is the council’s transport spokesperson.
He said: “As part of this we have been carefully considering the potential for a workplace parking levy drawing on the experience from Nottingham with support from their officers.
“We consider a workplace parking levy for Leicester could both encourage more people to switch from using private cars to public transport, cycling, and walking and would also help to deliver funding for transport improvements needed for the future.”
Click here to take part in the consultation.