Tuesday, 21 February 2012

"Road chaos" warning if council charges blue badge holders to park
Boston Borough Council leader Peter Bedford has been warned that charging disabled blue badge holders to park will bring chaos to Boston’s roads.
Martin Robbins, who in the past has been a vehement critic of the spending on the Princess Royal Sports Arena, also attacks the decision to continue to award council staff free parking in borough-owned car parks,
He writes: “This is in fact a discrimination against myself and other disabled people when you as a councillor (when on council business) and any member of council staff, can park for free in any council owned park - often all day if at work in the council’s offices - a benefit not offered to members of the public or the disabled.
“I feel that, if you as council leader and your councillors, cannot now afford to pay parking, having raised your own allowances last year by over 80%, then how can you expect the disabled - who generally live on state benefits - to afford your parking fees…
“What you are planning may only increase the volume of blue badge holders who choose to park on double yellow lines in accordance with the Road Traffic Act.
This would cause more traffic chaos than normal in town, even with the bus service running through Strait Bargate.”
Meanwhile, Independent Councillor Carol Taylor, who also thinks that councillors and staff should not be excused parking charges, has taken to the internet.
In a newly-created blog* she writes: “As you are all aware the cost of car parking is set to increase - together with the introduction of car parking fees for those suffering a physical disability.  I agree with this plan - but it has to be revenue gained from everyone, including councillors, council officers and employees.
“The issue of free parking permits, whilst a perk of the job, can no longer be acceptable in times of austerity - now where have I heard that before?
“I intend to pursue this, which will make me even more unpopular in council than I am already.
"Does this bother me?
“Not as much as not being able to find someone to come with me to see Barry Manilow in concert in May!!!
Meanwhile, last week’s claim by Boston businessman Darron Abbott that Boston Borough Council is footing a tax bill that councillors and staff should pay for the benefit of free parking passes, has been challenged by Labour Councillor Paul Gleeson.
He says that Mr Abbott’s assertion about the council’s tax and National Insurance liability in respect of staff parking permits, are wrong – citing section 237 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003. 
Councillor Gleeson says that there are two elements to staff parking -  the first of which is workplace parking, where an employer provides parking free of charge to staff at their normal place of work, and which he says is exempt from tax liability by statute and attracts no NI liability.
“As far as staff parking in other council car parks is concerned, Councillor Gleeson says: “If council staff, like many other employees, have to pay to park their car as a result of carrying out their job, they are able to claim back the cost of parking as non-taxable expenses. They use the permit in lieu of paying for and then reclaiming the cost of parking. Therefore, there is no tax liability arising from this use of the permit.
“I have checked with the council who have confirmed that no payments have been made to, or demanded by, HMRC because of this issue.”
Mr Abbott sticks to his guns.
“The letter I received from the Inland Revenue a couple years ago suggested that this section presumed that the parking facility was a private facility that a cash value could not be attached to. The letter went on to draw on the fact that the council staff park in a public car park;  the provision of the space in this car park, whether by the council or private employer, could be deemed as having cash value of £280 (the price of a permit at that time).
"Therefore as the benefit has cash value, it should be declared …
"I have spoken to one of the local inspectors who confirmed this provision may be deemed as a benefit by the Revenue because of the cash value. The letter also suggested that the Council could have a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA) in place.”
Something that Boston Eye would like clarifying is:  Do staff paying to park as “a result of carrying out their job” include those who sit behind a desk all day and do not  need to leave it until close of business?
Surely, a car is needed to carry out one’s job only if it is used as part of that job – and not merely as a means of transport from home to work?
And the council has a fleet of pool cars for  staff who need the use of a vehicle during the working day.

*Councillor Carol Taylor’s blog, which we understand will be updated every Thursday,  can be read by clicking on the link  http://councillorcaroltaylor.blogspot.com/  

You can write to us at boston.eye@googlemail.com   Your e-mails will be treated in confidence and published anonymously if requested.
Our former blog is archived at: http://bostoneyelincolnshire.blogspot.com

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