11th November 2016 – 

THERE are fears residential streets in Witney may be ‘clogged’ by people deterred from using free car parks in case of a ticket.

It comes after figures revealed more than 5,000 tickets were given to Witney drivers in the financial year 2015/16, with more than 1,200 issued to cars over-staying at Marriots Walk and the Woolgate Centre which both give at least two hours free.

In the past year, the district council took in £136,624 from tickets in Witney – £10,000 more than the previous year.

West Oxfordshire District Council has launched a public consultation on its parking strategy, giving drivers and residents the opportunity to have their say and help shape the future of parking in the town and district.

County councillor for Witney Laura Price said: “I think it demonstrates perhaps that the district council haven’t got it right yet in terms in terms of time allowances on different types of parking, and I really hope they listen to what people will be telling them.

“People know and welcome the fact that Witney has free parking – but I think because of that people to forget about the restrictions.”

Mrs Price said she feared drivers deterred from using the free car parks as a result of tickets may begin to ‘clog’ residential streets.

There are 780 parking spaces at the Woolgate Centre where drivers are able to leave their car for a maximum of three hours. Owners and managers of businesses based in the centre expressed their desire to see the maximum time limit for parking extended.

Dave Hackett, who owns Witney-based restaurant Hackett’s Food and Drink, said he and all of his Witney staff have been issued with parking tickets after leaving their cars in the car park.

He said: “I’m very grateful we have a free car park here but I am aware of parking issues and do think the length of stay could be longer.

“I’ve got a ticket before because you do forget how long you’ve been here.

“All my staff have had tickets over the past few years when using the car park, because the average shift they do is about five hours.”

Matt Clews, manager of Dapper Street, a clothes store situated right next to the car park, said he had witnessed several tickets being issued a day through his window.

He said: “I look out the front of my window and see about three tickets issued every day.

“It would be worth raising the maximum time to five hours and I think it’s worth the council taking that into consideration.”

Carol Reynolds, cabinet member for car parking and transport at the district council, said: “We are very proud of our free parking policy in the district but restrictions are necessary to ensure turnover, keep traffic flowing and allow people to park safely.

“As a result, our civil enforcement officers monitor the use of our car parks and streets and ensure those restrictions are maintained. We do not make any profit from penalty charges.

“The parking strategy has highlighted several issues the council will be exploring in the near future, one of which will be the balance of long and short stay spaces.”

To view the council’s parking strategy go to westoxon.gov.uk/parkingstrategy.