THERE is still time to shelve controversial plans to expand Seacourt Park and Ride, opposition city councillors insist.

The Green group at Oxford City Council claims the £4m scheme – which would add 650 parking spaces – is a waste of money that could be spent on other services.

But cash for the plans was given the go-ahead in the Labour-run authority's most recent budget, approved on Monday night.

The city council must still get planning permission for the change, however, and it faces a range of objections from residents and campaigners.

Chief among many people's concerns is the fact it would involve building on the floodplain.

Green group boss Craig Simmons said: "This is a waste of money – not just in environmental terms but also because it encourages more people to drive into the city.

"We have also foolishly given up control of future parking charges to the developers at the Westgate Shopping Centre, so they will be able to undercut us.

"Instead of building more car parking, we should be encouraging people to use rail services and other modes of transport instead.

"We have got a new rail link – not many cities can say that and we should be making more of it.

"Four million pounds is a lot of money – I think that is starting to set in – and there is still time to scrap this decision."

The city council argues the expansion will bring in vital cash when its grant from the Government disappears in 2019.

It also says the extra spaces are needed for when the Westgate reopens in October, after its £440m revamp.

Labour's Alex Hollingsworth, executive board member for planning and transport, said it was 'an investment'.

He told councillors: "It will generate revenue. We will have no revenue support grant in 2019... We need to find alternative sources of income."

Developer the Westgate Oxford Alliance has also backed the proposals.

In a letter to the city council's planning department, it said: "Seacourt Park and Ride is a convenient site for shoppers due to distance from the ring road and journey times to the centre and as such we would support additional parking provision in this location.

"It is important that Oxford can capture as much of the benefit that the Westgate development brings and by improving customer and visitor experience of people’s journey into the city will help to allow this to happen, encouraging repeat visits."

Meanwhile, campaigners' flood concerns about the scheme are expected to be addressed soon.

An earlier flood risk assessment found drivers could see their vehicles 'swept away' if the plans went ahead.

The Environment Agency has now said it will not submit its final verdict on the scheme until further studies are submitted by the city council, probably in March.