PARK-AND-RIDES and car parks across Oxford could be managed by one council for the first time as part of cost-cutting measures, it has emerged.

Discussions are under way between leaders at Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council with the aim of creating a simpler service.

But there is still a difference of opinion about which local authority is best placed to run the parking - the city or the county.

At the moment the city council runs Redbridge, Seacourt and Pear Tree park-and-ride sites, with Water Eaton and Thornhill run by the county council.

Parking in the city centre is also divided between dedicated car parks run by the city council and on-street parking regulated by the county council.

In a bid to save cash, the local authorities are now considering working together and talks have been taking place since the start of the year, according to city leader Bob Price.

He said: "We think the city council could use its expertise to take over the regulation and enforcement of the whole parking system in Oxford, for on-street and off-street parking.

"This is a formal proposal that we have put on the table for discussion.

"I think it would be ideal if drivers paid either to park at park-and-rides or for the bus fare - at the moment they pay for both.

"There are plans for Seacourt to be expanded by about 400 spaces and when the new Westgate Centre opens in 2017 there will be additional demand for parking - we need to manage that and get more people to use park-and-ride."

Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth said: "It does make sense to have a co-ordinated approach and having one authority run the park-and-rides is a good solution.

"But the Oxford Transport Strategy has suggested building new park-and-rides outside the city and they would be under the auspices of the county council.

"The county council is the highways authority and I think it is best placed to run the park-and-rides."

Proposals on the table are understood to include either one council managing the other's assets, or the creation of a new organisation they would fund together.

Labour city councillor Alex Hollingsworth said earlier this would allow the two authorities to cut back on "duplication" and back-office staff who are doing the same jobs.

It is also hoped that under a new system users could buy "season tickets" that would give access to all park-and-rides, not just some of them.

Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall said earlier this year that any move which increased the use of the park-and-ride network by making it easier for passengers should be applauded.

At Seacourt, the average yearly usage of spaces rose from 79 per cent in 2013/ 14 to full capacity by November 2015.

Meanwhile the usage at Redbridge went up from 56 per cent to 81 per cent in the same period, with Pear Tree also going up from 75 per cent to 81 per cent.