CONTROVERSIAL plans to spend £4m on an expansion of Seacourt Park and Ride have been pushed through by Oxford City Council.

They are part of the Labour-run authority’s annual budget, passed on Monday night with a thumping majority.

It also includes a £6 council tax rise for band D households, a £60m loan for a new city housing company, £10m to buy new accommodation for the homeless and multi-million pound regeneration schemes for the West End, Blackbird Leys and Barton.

Labour’s Ed Turner, city council deputy leader, said: “This is a budget of big, bold ambitions, a budget that shows a city council with the right values, and with a real sense of self-belief, can make a huge difference to those we serve.”

But the proposals were criticised by opposition councillors, who claimed the Seacourt scheme was waste of money.

It would involve building 650 extra spaces on the floodplain. The city council says it is necessary to cope with demand expected when the Westgate Shopping Centre reopens in October.

But Liberal Democrat group member Jean Fooks claimed it was ‘a very poor use’ of cash. She said: “Our park and ride sites have a lot of spare capacity at Redbridge and some at Pear Tree.”

Adding that it was also likely to increase congestion, she added. “The case for this seems to grow worse by the day.”

And Craig Simmons, leader of the Green group, said: “We believe that, at a time of such uncertainty and housing need, we should be investing in our city’s social infrastructure not its car parks.”

Mr Simmons proposed putting up car park fees ‘across the board’ by six per cent to compensate for the loss of future revenue this would cause.