SUPPORT for refugees seeking sanctuary in Oxford will be partly funded by a hike in car park charges.

Oxford City Council yesterday announced the increases at 11 of its car parks from April 1, with most about 10p to 20p.

But the biggest increase – £3.10 – will be at the Alexandra Tennis Courts off Woodstock Road, which councillors claim is being used by commuters to avoid higher charges at nearby Diamond Place.

The charge for five to 24 hours will rise from £10.30 to £13.40, with £10,000 per year of the extra takings pledged by the local authority towards language support for refugees.

Summertown city councillor Andrew Gant said this could include interpretation and translation for help with medical and legal cases.

The Liberal Democrat proposed the idea at a full meeting of the council last month and won cross-party support for his motion.

Mr Gant said: "I'm really pleased that these changes have been made, particularly in support of refugees.

"If you go down to Alexandra Courts during the day, you can see it is full of cars, but at the park there is no one in sight.

"People are using it as commuter parking instead of Diamond Place, because it is cheaper."

According to Asylum Welcome, based in Oxford, the charity helped 847 individual asylum seekers, refugees and detainees in the 2014/15 financial year.

It has separately been awarded a £10,000 grant by the city council to work with refugees and teach them English.

As part of a nationwide programme organised by the Home Office to resettle some 20,000 people from war-torn Syria by 2020, Oxford is understood to have housed about four families so far.

The Very Rev Bob Wilkes, City Rector and trustee of Asylum Welcome, which works with refugees in Oxford, said language support for people coming to the city was a "crucial" part of resettlement.

He added: "It is about teaching people English so they can function here and settle more easily, but there is also a great need for interpretation.

"People need to process asylum applications and to do that they may need to consult a lawyer, so having someone who can interpret that is crucial."

Changes to car park fees include those at St Clement's, where charges for all durations of stays have risen by 10p except for just one hour.

Others have also gone up at Worcester Street, Gloucester Green, Ferry and Summertown car parks, Old High Street and St Leonard's Road in Headington, Walton Well Road next to Port Meadow, Cutteslowe, Hinksey Park and the Redbridge coach and lorry park.

It came as JustPark – the service that allows people to privately let their empty driveways – said demand for commuter parking continued to grow "rapidly".

Since March 2013, the number of spaces offered by the service in Oxford has risen from 310 to 1,020. Meanwhile its average price of a space per day has risen by just 20p, from £5.80 to £6.

The areas in most demand were those around Oxford Rail Station, the John Radcliffe Hospital and Templars Square Shopping Centre in Cowley.

The average price per day for a space near the station was £10, bringing in those who rent there a total of £53,500 in one year.

Spokesman Sam Mellor said: "Parking close to rail stations and the hospitals is especially in demand and people can find it very difficult to find a space.

"That can cause them to park on the pavement and other inconvenient places, so our service helps to get more of those cars off the road and use space more efficiently.

"The fact is, car usage is still going up and is expected to double by 2020. So the issue of car parking needs to be addressed.

"As long as our rates continue to be affordable in comparison to those charged by councils, we expect the use of our service to continue to rise."