MORE than £730,000 has been raked in by the city council in parking fines since the start of 2017, the Oxford Mail can reveal.

Across the authority’s 24 car parks, 18,953 motorists were given penalties between January 2017 and last Wednesday – but the council was unable to say how many were rescinded.

The highest numbers of tickets were handed out, perhaps not surprisingly, at Oxford’s most expensive car parks.

Oxford Mail:

At Worcester Street, 3,280 tickets were issued – even though there are just 200 spaces. As a result, the council collected £141,718.29.

In the 105-space Gloucester Green Car Park, 2,776 fines were issued bringing in £117,347.48.

Oxford Mail:

Most of the drivers approached by the Oxford Mail at Worcester Street Car Park said they believed hourly pay-and-display prices were too high, which could be contributing to the temptation for drivers to avoid purchasing a longer stay.

The city council insists it does not prioritise one car park over any other when it was issuing penalties.

But at Oxpens car park, which the council recommends motorists use, 2,303 penalties were handed out, resulting in £86,751 in fines.

Oxford Mail:

The number of fines there was lower than Worcester Street despite it having more than double the car parking spaces, with 420 bays.

On average, all of the fines totalled up shows an average payment of £38.64 for people given tickets. But the authority said penalties meant a charge of £100, which reduced to £50 if they were paid within 28 days of them being issued.


Around the county - fines revealed for rest of Oxfordshire 

Drivers' view - what you told us about parking charges 

The authority said all its enforcement in car parks is carried out by its own staff and that no bonuses are paid for any issuing parking tickets. No other performance targets or quotas are in place either, it said.

Nigel Chapman, executive board member for customer focused services, said: “When checking that customers are paying the appropriate charges for their stay, Oxford City Council makes sure our parking attendants visit all our car parks on a regular basis and that our enforcement operations are carried out on a fair and consistent basis within the parking regulations. We do not specifically target one car park over another.”

During peak times on Saturday, it costs £4.50 for an hour’s parking in Worcester Street Car Park, £7.30 for two hours and up to £30 for an eight-hour stay.

Whereas at Oxpens, one hour costs £3 and six-12 hours will set drivers back only £19.

Driver James Possel-White, of Witney, who the Oxford Mail spoke to in Worcester Street, said he had narrowly avoided a fine when his ticket came close to running out.

He also complained about the price of parking at Worcester Street car park. He said: “They should be in line with the other car parks’ fares. It should all be reduced so it’s a bit more manageable.”

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, which campaigns on government spending and taxation, said: “Small charges are sometimes necessary to manage our roads but motorists will simply feel like they are being used as cash cows for the council.

“There are already sky high taxes on fuel and for owning a car so councils must be careful that they don’t heap even more misery onto hard-pressed taxpayers. What’s also crucial is that Oxford’s local politicians don’t see these kinds of charges as a way to plug gaps in the finances, instead of taking decisions to cut out non-essential services.”

In 2013, the then communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles said councils were trying too hard to fine drivers in car parks exclusively to raise money.

He said at the time: “What is important is that we concentrate on dangerous parking, on careless parking and negligent parking and not use the motorist as a cash cow.

“This is just simple common sense to ensure that people can pop into the shops, can use local facilities without the fear of overzealous enforcement of parking restrictions.”

As part of measures rolled out later in 2015, drivers were given a 10-minute grace period when parked in a bay. The move was hoped to prevent any fines being handed out if people were a matter of minutes late.

Earlier this year councillors voted to raise parking fees across the city, stressing that the money would be re-invested in services including £5million to buy homes for families at risk of homelessness.