Cllr Liam Walker
West Oxfordshire town says no to parking charges
Residents in the town of Woodstock in West Oxfordshire have now formally expressed their concerns about parking charges being implemented in the market town.
From the 17th March to 15th April this year Oxfordshire County Council carried out a formal consultation about a number of measures looking to make improvements to parking in the town. The plans included several ultra-short stay parking areas with a maximum stay of 20 minutes along with resident parking permit areas and on-street parking charges.
In response to the consultation a total of 361 responses were received via the online survey and forms submitted at the two public exhibitions held in Woodstock. There was a total of 76% of respondents from Woodstock and 24% who visit from other nearby areas.
A report put together by County Council officers which has been released ahead of the cabinet member decision meeting on Thursday 26th May shows that overall, over 50% of respondents objected to the introduction of paid parking bays in the central area of Woodstock. A high number of people objected to the introduction of parking charges on the basis that parking should remain free in West Oxfordshire with some making the point that the proposals were setting the scene for parking charges to be introduced in other towns within the district.
This view was echoed by Liam Walker, a Conservative County Councillor who has been leading the campaign to protect free parking in West Oxfordshire. Cllr Walker said, “This report from the county council highlights exactly what we have been saying about parking charges in West Oxfordshire; people don’t want them! This new rural tax being pushed by the Lib Dems is going to be damaging to local businesses in Woodstock and hit the pockets of those least able to afford it. There is nothing fair about these parking plans.”
Overall, 50% of respondents objected to paid parking bays compared with 28% in support with many comments stating that paid parking is bad for business and the local economy as well as deterring people from visiting or shopping in Woodstock.
There were also several concerns that there would not be enough parking spaces available to support the resident permit scheme with some respondents concerned that parking demands would become over- subscribed. This would therefore undermine available parking for other users.
A high proportion of respondents made the point that town centre residents purchased or let their properties with the knowledge that on-street parking was time-limited, and therefore concessions shouldn’t be made for residential parking. Local businesses in the town, which also includes a number of hotels, stated they shouldn’t be treated differently or disadvantaged by the proposals.
Oxfordshire County Councillor Liam Walker agreed saying, “This whole thing is being pushed by those living in the town centre who have been pushing this parking charge agenda for many years now. If you own or are renting a property with no parking available for your cars it should not be to the detriment of the rest of the town to find you a solution. It’s like moving next to a play park and complaining the kids are playing too loud.”
A further town poll on parking in Woodstock will now take place which will ask the question, do you want to keep all parking areas free of charge in Woodstock. Residents can vote on Wednesday 18th May between 4PM and 9PM at either the Woodstock Bowls and Tennis Club or Woodstock Town Hall.