DIDCOT Town Council leader Eleanor Hards wants South Oxfordshire District Council to clamp down on commuter parking.

The district council dismissed a proposal to spend £280,000 on parking enforcement across South Oxfordshire at its budget meeting on Thursday.

But Mrs Hards said more needed to be done to enforce parking restrictions as thousands of new homes are built in the town and train commuters dodge paying at the station’s car park.

That includes 3,300 homes at Great Western Park and 4,500 at Valley Park as part of the district council’s core strategy until 2026.

Currently, residents have to rely on police to hand out tickets to commuters who park on residential roads near Didcot Parkway railway station, or near the Orchard Centre.

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Officers ticketed 15 vehicles in Haydon Road on February 5, but Mrs Hards said residents would be better protected if SODC took charge.

She said it would cost about £280,000 over two years to bring in enforcement by civil parking wardens, as is done in Oxford.

She added: “We are not criticising the police, but there is a particular problem with commuter parking in Didcot.

“People using the railway station don’t want to pay for the car parks so they park outside residents’ homes nearby and then residents can’t park outside their homes – not all residents have driveways.

“Residents living in streets off Broadway also have a problem because staff working at shops in the Orchard Centre park there. Drivers also park on the Ladygrove estate instead of having to pay for parking.”

Last year work finished on an £8m revamp of the station which included more than 100 new parking spaces, improved walkways and greater disabled access.

Mrs Hards said the ruling Conservative group made it clear at a budget meeting last Thursday that civil parking enforcement was, at present, not a priority. She added: “The situation at the moment is also damaging for some businesses because short-term parking spaces get taken up by commuters.

“For some people, if they can park somewhere for nothing then they will. Didcot’s population is growing and the problem will only get worse.”

South Oxfordshire leader John Cotton said his council was one of about 20 in the UK which did not control civil parking enforcement because, he said, residents did not want it.

He said: “The public aren’t in favour. We have run various consultations over the years and we don’t see an appetite for it across the district.”

He admitted there was a call for it in certain “pockets”, but he said the police should be doing their duty.

He said: “At the moment, part of the funds they raise from the taxpayer are to go towards that. If we started paying for civil enforcement they would be paying for it twice, which just isn’t fair.”

Thames Valley Police did not respond to a request for comment.