DRIVERS in St Giles in Oxford breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as new parking machines were installed.

Until now many motorists have been caught short without coins to feed the parking meters, which did not accept the new pound coins.

But yesterday contractors arrived to dig up the defunct machines and install new ones which will accept the new pound coins - five months after they came into circulation.

Councillors say the old machines couldn't be upgraded as they were over 20 years old.

The county council is investing £350,000 in the new machines which will make paying for parking easier - drivers will be able to pay with cash or card.

There are 120 old machines being replaced, with 85 new ones in Oxford, Abingdon, Wallingford and Henley.

All machines will accept card payments while some will accept cards and cash.

Yvonne Constance, cabinet member for environment, said earlier: “All of our on-street machines are being replaced – a major undertaking that we wanted to get right in terms of the function and location of the new machines.

“On-street parking is a short-term option for those needing to make quick visits, particularly to Oxford.

“The county council has convenient park-and-ride facilities for people wanting to spend longer in the city – using these helps to reduce congestion.

“We couldn’t upgrade the components in the existing machines as they were simply too old and were bought second-hand in 1994.”

Old £1 coins will no longer be legal tender on October 15.

All the new machines are expected to be in place by the end of September.

Until the old machines are replaced a message will be clearly displayed on them telling drivers the machines do not accept new pound coins.