Leicester parking charge proposal leaves 'dreadful' dilemma, says headteacher

Headteacher Julie Robinson spoke to ITV News Central Education Correspondent Peter Bearne about the levy

The principal of a secondary school in Leicester says the city council's plans to introduce a charge for employee parking would leave her with a "dreadful" dilemma - whether to absorb the cost into her school budget, or pass it onto her staff.

Julie Robinson, who's in charge of Soar Valley College in Belgrave, is urging the council to reconsider its proposals for a workplace parking levy which are currently the subject of a public consultation.

She says it is a worry schools in Leicester could do without after two of the toughest years in education coping with the pandemic.

The levy would amount to £550 per parking space per year for employers whose car parks cater for more than ten vehicles.

Leicester City Council says it will deter commuters from driving and allow it to pump hundreds of millions of pounds into greener, sustainable public transport and cycleways.

It could soon cost teachers £550 per year to park at Soar Valley College Credit: ITV PLC

Soar Valley College has around 100 spaces in its car park. Ms Robinson says, if she were to swallow the charge up in her budget, it would leave her with a financial hole equivalent to two starting teachers' salaries.

If she passes the cost onto her staff, she says, it will discourage them from wanting to work in Leicester and make recruitment much harder.

Leicester is going down the same road as Nottingham where a workplace parking levy has been around for a decade.

One Nottingham headteacher told me it was "an outrageous stealth tax on public servants".

She said it hadn't affected her ability to recruit staff - but her car park is relatively small (just 20 spaces), so many staff park in the street.

The union, UNISON, which represents school support staff, has also criticised Leicester City Council's proposals.

Sam Randfield, assistant secretary for schools at the Leicester City branch, says it is terrible timing in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

He also wouldn't rule out a ballot on industrial action if the council pushes ahead with its plans as they stand.

The arguments are likely to run and run. The public consultation ends next month.

The council would still need Government approval for its plans - if successful, the levy would be brought in next year.