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Car charge at city's parks to be reviewed
A DECISION to continue charging for parking at parks and open spaces in Oxford is due to be reviewed next week.
Oxford City Council introduced the charges at Cutteslowe Park, Alexandra Courts, Port Meadow, Hinksey Park and Sunnymead Park in September last year to boost revenues.
And in September of this year, the council’s city executive board voted to continue with the policy after seeing a report on car park use.
That was despite concerns about displaced parking problems near parks like Cutteslowe, and criticism of the thousands of pounds the council has raised from the scheme. But next Monday, the council’s value and performance scrutiny committee will look again at the decision after it was “called in” by the chairman Mark Mills.
Mr Mills, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said: “The rationale for calling it in is I was concerned at the way the figures were being used.
“The attendance figures were being used in quite a political way, and the city executive board is not really a consultative body, it’s there to formalise decisions which have already been made.”
In September, the board was told the parks service had not identified any reduction in usage as a result of the charges.
Councillors also heard that gate data supplied from Hinksey Park suggested usage had in fact risen.
But the board was also told by opposition councillors that residents living near the parks had seen an increase in the number of cars clogging up their streets.
Board member for city development Colin Cook said: “We’re sad that we had to introduce these charges, but they were as a result of cuts to our budget from the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition.”
Wolvercote Lib Dem councillor Mike Gotch, who represents those living in Harbord Road near Cutteslowe Park, said the report on the effect the charges were having was “inadequate”.
He said: “It was a very poor report indeed. They just haven’t looked at what’s going on in the neighbouring streets. We are getting complaints all the time.”
The 13-member committee will decide on Monday whether or not it agrees with the board’s decision, and if it does, the ruling will stand.
If they disagree, the board will be asked to consdier the matter again at its next meeting.
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