A TORY councillor's concerns that Fife Council will bring in a workplace parking levy have been dismissed as "simply scaremongering".

Dave Dempsey had slammed the prospect of new taxes as "wrong for Fife" and demanded that the local authority "finds better ways to spend the money it has".

However, his views were labelled as "absolute hypocrisy" by Fife Council's co-leaders who said that a tax on workplace car parks in the Kingdom was highly unlikely to be introduced. The row broke out following the Scottish Government's budget agreement, which was announced last week.

The deal includes more core funding for local authorities and extra powers for them to levy local parking and tourist taxes. The Conservatives group leader on the council, Cllr Dempsey, said: "Quite apart from breaking a string of SNP manifesto promises, the proposed new taxes are wrong for Fife.

"Taxing workplace car parks might be fine in a city where there’s a bus due in two minutes with another three minutes behind but it won’t work across large parts of Fife where public transport is infrequent or non-existent.

"And it would have unintended consequences such as displacing cars into surrounding streets."

He continued: “Tourism is a key growth area in Fife. Edinburgh may feel it has enough tourists but we want them on this side of the Forth. Taxing them when they arrive isn’t going to help.

“Finally, while the SNP government’s failure to pass on extra cash to councils may make a council tax rise inevitable, voters aren’t going to take kindly to higher bills for ever-diminishing levels of service.

"Fife Council needs to find better ways of spending the money it has rather than hiking taxes.

"Council officers know how to do this but the ideological stance of Labour and the SNP stops them."

Cllr David Ross, the Labour co-leader of the council, hit back and said: "This is just the same old Tory mantra that taxes are bad and public services should be privatised.

"Council tax was frozen for 10 years. Nobody can seriously argue that an increase of three per cent in line with inflation is unfair.

"The principle we’re arguing for is that every council should have the power to decide its own level of council tax and not be dictated to by the Scottish Government."

He continued: "For Dave Dempsey to claim there are easy savings to be made within the council is just nonsense. "We’ve made cuts and efficiency savings amounting to £219m and lost over 2,000 staff since 2010.

"The Tory view of easy savings is to charge people for home care services they’ve already paid for through their taxes and sell off the council’s well run, top quality care homes.

"The point of a tourist tax – at the discretion of each local authority, not an imposed blanket tax – is that whilst tourists bring money into the local economy, which is to be welcomed, there is a cost to local services and infrastructure.

"If councils are able to gain a modest income from tourist visits, then most of them will reinvest this to improve facilities and infrastructure like roads and transport, to the benefit of residents and tourists alike.

"I think a workplace parking levy may be appropriate in some of our big cities, but I wouldn’t see this as appropriate in Fife.

"This is yet again simply scaremongering from Dave Dempsey and the Tories."

Cllr David Alexander, the SNP co-leader, agreed a workplace parking levy in Fife was highly unlikely and added: "Having the power to raise taxes and using them are two different things but I find the absolute hypocrisy of the Tories quite amazing.

"Whether it's Holyrood or Fife Council they don't want any increase in tax or council tax but they're first to shout for more money.

"At the last budget meeting they proposed no increase and put forward £4.5m more cuts than we did. Their position is outrageous.

"If we don't increase council tax how do they propose we pay for services? Are they proposing a zero per cent pay rise for staff from now on and more cuts without raising money from somewhere?

"If they'd really wanted to play a part in Holyrood they should've spoken to the government but they didn't make any attempt to put forward their own proposals."