Green travel could mean council staff losing their free-parking perk

PUBLISHED: 08:35 01 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 06 May 2010

FREE car parking for St Albans District Council employees could be withdrawn in an attempt to be more green . The council s Green Travel Plan (GTP) is exploring various ways in which it can cut traffic and pollution, including among its own staff. So fa

FREE car parking for St Albans District Council employees could be withdrawn in an attempt to be more "green".

The council's Green Travel Plan (GTP) is exploring various ways in which it can cut traffic and pollution, including among its own staff.

So far the proposals include free parking for car-sharing employees and provision of a fleet of battery-powered bicycles and an electric car. The council is also considering ending the free parking concession for its own staff in the Civic Centre car park.

Cllr Mike Ellis, portfolio holder for the environment, said meetings would be taking place with Unison to discuss incentives to get staff to car share. One idea would be to reward car sharers with free parking.

He also said the present practice of allowing free car parking spaces for staff, councillers and aldermen was encouraging car use.

He added: "We have to act to try and reduce congestion and cut down pollution in line with Government initiatives. We can't rule out the possibility of charging staff to park."

But the council staff' union representative is unhappy that she was not brought in on the early stages of the consultation for the GTP.

Unison branch officer Sharon Mackay said: "Unison was surprised at the lack of consultation from management prior to proposals to Cabinet considering these issues covered members' terms and conditions."

She added: "Many of my members are parents who have to make several journeys before they even come to work, dropping children off en route. It would clearly be unfair for them to be penalised for not car sharing."

Ms Mackay also warned of health and safety concerns about the suggestion of buying bicycles and electric bicycles for staff use and said members were not happy about losing free parking, one of the "perks" of their job.

The council's Cabinet has already agreed that temporary and agency staff will no longer be eligible for free use of the car park from Monday.

It has also agreed to carry out a staff travel survey this year and a mapping exercise of staff home phone numbers by postcode to determine mode of travel.

The electric pool bicycles will be paid for from the £30,000 allocated for the 2008/9 budget for green travel initiatives. There is also £55,000 allocated for next year which could be used to pay for an electric pool car.

So far only nine employees have signed up to the council's car-sharing scheme launched in 2007.

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