THOUSANDS of pounds are being overpaid by drivers in on-street parking meters across the county that do not give change.
In a Freedom of Information request from the Oxford Mail, the county council has revealed that since 2009 it has collected £17,670 from its 112 parking ticket machines through overpayments.
The county council controls all on-street parking meters, which do not take 5p, 2p or 1p pieces, and some do not accept the newer 20p and 10p pieces. Streets that have parking meters include Broad Street and Mansfield Road in Oxford which charge £2.50 an hour.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged the council’s park-and-ride sites at Thornhill and Water Eaton have taken more than £250,000 since it introduced a parking charge of £2 in November.
John O’Connell, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Overcharging motorists by using machines that don’t give change is disgraceful behaviour.
“Drivers are already stung by excessive motoring taxes and shouldn’t be hit by extra charges because they haven’t got exact change.”
Mo Hamza, from Sandhills, said: “I always make sure I have the right change because I know I won’t get the change back, but it’s definitely not fair.
The 27-year-old account assistant said: “Pennies make the pounds so why should the council keep them?”
But county councillor David Nimmo Smith, below, the cabinet member for transport, said people were expected to have the correct change.
It comes as the amount of income from the two park-and-ride sites has risen from £42k in 2012/13 to £258k in the eight months from November 2013, when a £2 parking fee came in at both sites for up to 11 hours.
The adult return bus fare from Water Eaton park-and-ride to Magdalen Street, Oxford, also costs £2.70.
Retail operations manager at Boswell’s department store Frank Smith said: “The councils need to do more to help the retailers in Oxford attract shoppers.”
When the county council announced the introduction of the charges in 2012, councillor Alan Armitage said: “With the magnitude of the squeeze the county council is now suffering, this subsidy of car users is no longer appropriate or affordable.”
In total in the last financial year to April 2014, the county council made £1.9m from parking, a 27.5 per cent increase from the year before.
Mr Nimmo Smith said: “We don’t budget for a profit but we need the money to plough back into the roads and car parks.”
Oxford City Council, which has 779 meters in the city’s car parks, made a surplus of £3.98m on parking, a drop of £580k.
Spokeswoman Eva Green said: “The surplus was partly used to fund our capital programme, which included works such as resurfacing car parks and waterproofing Gloucester Green.”
None of the other councils could reveal how much they had received in unpaid change.
- In August last year the Thornhill park-and-ride opened with 1,355 spaces following a £3.6m refurbishment project over six months.
- The 500 extra spaces have been welcomed by users who complained the existing 855 spaces were always full.
- In October 2011 Oxford City Council took over the running of Seacourt, Redbridge, and Pear Tree park-and-rides.
- In June 2012 it began charging drivers £1.50 a day to park their cars in the three sites, despite 1,118 people signing a petition against the new fees.
COMMENT: Time for a change of heart on park and ride costs
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