MILLIONS of pounds could be spent cleaning Oxford’s streets and improving the city centre if a charge on tourists is introduced, according to the Liberal Democrats.

The party proposes a tourist bed levy of £1 per night, which it said could raise at least £5m a year to help improve the city – but it has said ways coach parking is managed must be improved.

Liz Wade, the Lib Dems’ deputy leader on Oxford City Council, said residents feel ‘crowded out of Oxford’s streets by tourists and their coaches’ and ‘may end up marching' as they have done recently in Venice, Barcelona and Berlin unless changes are made soon.

Last year the Lib Dems’ proposal for a ‘tourism tax’ to be explored by Oxford City Council, which the party said could plough extra funds into the authority, received unanimous backing.

Levies are currently being investigated by a number of UK councils, including Camden and Bath.

But Mrs Wade said she was worried that a proposal in the city council’s Local Plan to move coach parking ‘just outside' the city centre to the north or south would impact on residents and shift congestion to other parts.

Mrs Wade said: “What we need to do is to move coach parking to park-and-Rides or to the Becket Street car park and provide fast efficient shuttle buses to move tourists in and out. This could be a good start to managing tourists for their benefit and ours.”

She added: “I’m concerned that the Local Plan will just propose moving coaches out of St Giles ‘just outside the City Centre to the north/south for a drop-off point’.

“This could just mean clogging up residential streets instead of St Giles and moving the air quality problem 500 metres out of the planned Zero Emission Zone.”

Mrs Wade added air quality would not be improved across the city by potentially ‘exporting’ the problem into residential streets.

The Local Plan will be discussed later this year before it is adopted next year.

The city council currently estimates that about 7 million tourists visit Oxford each year, with £780m ploughed into the city's economy annually.

That total is likely to increase over coming years because of the reopening of the Westgate Centre.

At January’s city council meeting, the council's board member for planning Alex Hollingsworth said the council should actively welcome people who stay in the city for longer and contribute more than for visitors who stay here for ‘a couple of hours’.

He said: “If in doing so [it makes Oxford] less attractive for people who will spend a couple of hours taking a couple of photographs with buses blocking St Giles’ and other streets then I think we would benefit as a city by doing so.”