Britain’s army of ‘white van’ tradesmen say they are being forced to pass on the cost of ‘extortionate’ council parking charges and motoring fees to customers –with some even threatening to boycott city centres altogether.
Homeowners are footing the cost of steep parking fee rises and ‘green’ motoring charges that can land builders, plumbers and electricians with bills of up to £139.50 a day in one area of London.
According to the Federation of Master Builders, 80 per cent of builders have had to raise prices due to spiralling parking charges.
Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers, accused councils of creating a ‘hostile environment’ for tradesmen.
In North London, Islington Council charges up to £6.20 an hour to park between 8.30am and 6.30pm, with a £5-an-hour surcharge for diesel vehicles.
With the capital’s £15 congestion charge and an emissions charge of £12.50 on top, the total daily bill for a diesel van can reach £139.50.
Daily trade permits cost £28.90, but the price of those has risen 13 per cent since 2017.
£2million in speeding fines are refunded
Police are paying back £2 million in fines to 19,000 motorists wrongly booked for speeding.
The foul-up began when speed cameras were set up to enforce a 50 mph limit on a stretch of the A1 while roadworks were under way.
A spokesman for National Highways said: ‘There was a discrepancy relating to the temporary traffic order, which means some of the enforcement was invalid and we are working with Lincolnshire Police to resolve this issue.’
Police said 18,387 tickets were issued for driving at 50 to 70mph, and 702 for exceeding 70mph, on the Grantham southern relief road from February 16 to July 10.
Penalty points are being cancelled but many drivers chose instead to take speed awareness courses – and say they will ‘never get that time back’.
In nearby Kensington and Chelsea, the council charges £6.10 an hour to park a diesel vehicle in high-tariff areas – up a third more than four years ago.
It means parking for ten hours can result in a bill of up to £88.50 when other environmental charges are included.
In Edinburgh, tradesmen face parking charges of up to £5.30 an hour for a van, although they can purchase an annual £1,300 permit.
In Bath, tradesmen are charged up to £3.80-an-hour on top of a £9-a-day clean air fee, taking the cost of a ten-hour working day to £47.
Simon Jefferies, 64, who runs JEM Heating And Plumbing Services, said he pays more than £100 a day for his fleet of four vans in Bath.
‘I can have a job in the middle of town which runs for six months, so you can imagine five days a week at over £25, that puts a lot of money on the job,’ he said.
‘If it runs for 20 weeks then that’s more than £2,500 which goes on top of the cost of the job straight away.
‘It’s staggering that they are punishing tradespeople and hammering small businesses.’
Brian Berry of the Federation of Master Builders said: ‘Builders are already facing spiralling costs for materials.
‘Extra charges for carrying out day-to-day work, which unavoidably will include driving their vans in cities, are tough.
‘Eighty per cent of members have had to raise prices and some are considering pulling out of inner London altogether, as they can no longer take the hit.’