TPA Victory in Bristol

In Bristol the sun shone on the TaxPayers’ Alliance as it brought together an impressive alliance of local politicians and leading campaigning groups to celebrate the defeat of Bristol City Council’s misguided Workplace Parking Levy (WPL).

Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie and Mayoral Candidate Geoff Gollop were joined by the TPA’s Chief Executive Matthew Sinclair, local Federation of Small Businesses leader Guy Kingston, Association of British Drivers Director Brian Macdowall, Freedom Association Director Simon Richards, and Bristol University Freedom Society head Jennifer Salisbury-Jones, as well as many TPA supporters. Meeting in Bristol’s historic Corn Street, they proceeded to College Green where they raised their banners in front of the council offices.

The dramatic climb-down by Bristol City Council began earlier in the week when the Bristol Post published a feature on the TPA’s battle against the WPL quoting a majority of mayoral candidates speaking out against the tax. The broadening support for our Action Day was too much for Cllr Tim Kent, Cabinet Member for Transport. The next day, he told the Post the unpopular scheme had been scrapped because it would have sent out a negative message about the city. ‘The City Council will no longer be pursuing the option of a workplace parking levy as a contribution to the funding of Bus Rapid Transit major projects,’ said a council statement. ‘Business rate retention is now a more realistic option as a funding stream than a workplace parking levy,’ said Kent.

‘I am delighted by that,’ responded mayoral candidate Gollop, ‘the Council has seen sense and realised how important it is that we encourage business and jobs into the city.’ Guy Kingston of the FSB was pleased too with the sudden climb-down, having campaigned for several months against the scheme.

‘The FSB has put a great deal of effort into fighting this measure,’ he said, ‘and we have been the only business organisation locally prepared to stick our necks out, stand up for business and risk the wrath of the Establishment. Our efforts have paid off and we are very grateful to the Tax Payers’ Alliance and the Association of British Drivers who have campaigned alongside us.’

But he added a note of caution. ‘The council have only dropped plans for the workplace parking levy in relation to financing their new bendy bus scheme. Of course, they could reintroduce the WPL again at a later date, next time they want to fleece the business community for more cash.’ For this reason, it was decided to carry on with our Action Day to underline the united opposition against any future tax on local business.

In the meantime, Cllr Kent was named TPA Pinhead of the Month. In a furious exchange of tweets, the councillor claimed that ‘the Taxpayers’ Alliance show how out of date they are—Bristol stopped work on the workplace levy scheme months ago.’ If this is true, Cllr, then how come you and the council didn’t bother to tell a concerned Bristol business community earlier? It would have saved a lot of anxiety. The fact is it was the united front of opposition coming together for the TPA Action Day that forced the council to announce it was scrapping the WPL. Well done to everyone involved!

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