With inflation in the Eurozone soaring to 10.7 per cent this month any claim that the cost of living crisis is wholly the fault of the UK Government, as the opposition here would have you believe doesn’t stack up.
The twin impact of the Ukraine War on gas and food prices has driven up retail sales in the UK by a staggering 6.6 per cent in a year, with food costs rising by 11.6 per cent in the last month. Petrol and diesel prices have begun to climb again, adding to transport costs, so a quick end to this crisis is not in sight.
Interest rates will rise to keep inflation in check, so the impact on housing costs could be felt for years, especially as the SNP-Green rent freeze will crush supply and push up rents for new tenants.
Higher food, fuel, accommodation and borrowing costs could be a fact of life for years, yet it’s against this background that Edinburgh’s Labour administration is actively considering the introduction of a workplace parking levy which could whack commuters with an extra £650 annual bill.
And on top of that, the transport convener even suggests the congestion charge overwhelmingly rejected 17 years ago could be revived if more people don’t use public transport. I was under the obviously mistaken belief that, if nothing else, the Labour Party stood up for working people, not for new ways to relieve them of their hard-earned cash.
So too are the Lib Dems committed to considering a workplace parking charge, when between the two of them they could decide right now this is not the time to start introducing new local taxes when so many households are finding even the basics increasingly unaffordable.
This week I wrote to both Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton to ask them to talk sense into their local representatives and take workplace parking charges off the table because there are no guarantees household budgets will be more relaxed by the time a charge is introduced in two or three years’ time.
Unlike the local Lib Dems, the local Labour Party did not mention a workplace parking charge in its council election manifesto this year, so it cannot claim a mandate to introduce one.
In January, when the hard-left local SNP was in charge in the City Chambers, Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Neil Bibby MSP spelt out the party’s opposition. “This SNP commuter tax is a shameless attack on workers’ pay packets,” he said. "It beggars belief that the SNP are pressing ahead with these misguided plans in the midst of a cost of living crisis.”
I presume Mr Bibby thinks it beggars belief that his party’s local transport spokesman is still contemplating this levy when the only change in the last nine months is things are markedly worse.
No doubt local Labour and Lib Dem councillors will argue they only want a consultation to see what people think, but at a time when Edinburgh Council is staring at a £50m black hole, what is the point in frittering away money on a survey when the dogs in the street know how people will react to another tax.
Then again, seeing sense isn’t Edinburgh Council’s motto.