While I was canvassing for the Liberton/Gilmerton by-election this weekend, one resident told me how she didn’t like it when employees of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh off Dalkeith Road parked outside her house in the morning. I’m not sure whether this is because the hospital doesn’t have enough car parking space for its employees or whether they make employees pay to park, but either way there must be a significant reason if employees instead park half a mile away from their place of work.
One way to solve this problem — for residents at least — would be to make some streets resident parking only. But this doesn’t help the employees, and it also causes hassle for visitors of residents, residents who hire a car for a week or so, or when residents get a new car and need to change their details.
So how could we have a win-win system, so everyone gains?
Why not build housing for the employees next to the hospital. Since the idea is that hospital workers would live the, the housing would be rented not sold, and workers who stopped working for the hospital would have to give up their tenure (obviously they wouldn’t be immediately kicked out, they’d have a period of grace). The purpose of this would be to free up room for other hospital employees who wanted to live there.
Obviously this wouldn’t be for everyone. But many people don’t like having to spend the time and money it costs travelling to work, so we could assume that quite a few people would take up the idea. Rents would be roughly at council house levels which although unsubsidised are a good deal cheaper than private lets or buys. In fact it might make sense to give them a small subsidy in recognition of the positive externalities they are providing to others, namely the reduction in traffic near the hospital.
So, who wins from this:
- residents nearby win, as hospital employees no longer park in their car parking spaces
- residents also win because there is less traffic (particularly at rush hours)
- the reduction in traffic means that there is less pollution (residents wins), less emissions of greenhouse gases (everyone wins), and less dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world (the UK wins)
- hospital employees who live in this tied accommodation would benefit, because no employee would be forced to live in it, therefore employees would only choose to do so if they thought it was a better deal than whatever other options they had
- hospital employees who didn’t live in tied accommodation would benefit, since there would be less traffic when going to and from work
And who loses:
So under this scheme everyone would be better off. Schemes like this should be routinely considered for large-scale sites of employment, whether office, retail, or light industrial.
Baking a bigger cake: an efficient economy is a modern economy
Everyone can win because this system is more efficient — it reduces the costs in time and money of travelling to work.
The other parties talk about redistributing the national cake. So for example, left-wing parties like the Greens and Scottish Socialist Party want the rich to pay more taxes, to give more money to the poor. and the Tories are the reverse: they want to cut public spending for the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich.
If you read propaganda from the old failed parties, they spend nearly all their time arguing about how to divide up the cake. Instead we should turn our minds to baking a bigger cake, so we can all get a bigger slice. And that’s why I care about efficiency: it’s a necessary part of building a modern, 21st century Edinburgh where everyone can be well-off. If I am elected as a councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton ward, that will be my goal.