A 76-YEAR-OLD man has described how he was beaten up and kicked in the face in a row over bad parking.

Pensioner Barry Lewis had asked the driver not to park in front of his driveway, and says he ended up in a wrestling strangle-hold.

He and his neighbours say it is just the latest in a string of fights and arguments over stupid and insensitive parking in New Marston, north Oxford.

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Because the council has never created any parking restrictions there, the neighbourhood has turned into a lawless Wild West where builders, hospital patients and commuters regularly park for free, blocking pavements, driveways and cycle paths and infuriating those who live there.

Mr Lewis, a former boxer who lives on Fairfax Avenue, told how he tried to politely ask one driver not to block his driveway on Friday, October 4, and ended up on the floor.

Oxford Mail:

Cars parked on both sides of the road in Fairfax Avenue making it difficult for drivers to pass. Picture: Google Maps

He said: "I asked him 'would you mind parking elsewhere?' – I was polite but all I got was abuse.

"I explained to him that I'm an ex-boxer so my hands are considered offensive weapons, and I said once he does me harm, it will be self-defence.

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"He ten started recording me, so I walked away, but I should have never have turned my back on him.

"He approached me from behind and got me into what I call 'a sleeper' – this is a wrestling strangle hold that knocks you out, because of the pressure on nerves in your neck.

"I fell on the ground, so I started to get up, but when I got on one knee he kicked me straight in the face."

Oxford Mail:

Cars parked on pavements force people to walk on wet grass on in the road. Picture submitted by a resident.

Mr Lewis said neighbours were so concerned when they saw the attack they called police, but he said had not been contacted by the officers since.

Although this was an extreme incident, residents of Fairfax Avenue told this paper the attack was down to lack of action on the authorities' side, resulting in their neighbourhood turning into a Wild West for parking.

While there are a few white lines to discourage motorists parking in front of driveways, these are the only formal restrictions and these are not enforced.

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What makes the situation worse is that the area is surrounded by institutions where visitors have to pay to park, such as the John Radcliffe Hospital 20 minutes' walk away and Oxford Brookes University's Health and Social Care School just 10 minutes' walk.

Mr Lewis said that 'it has become a nightmare' since Brookes students returned in September, but he said the biggest problem parkers were builders.

He explained: "They drop off the workers at the town centre, but then drive their vans here to park, then the driver cycles back to the town.

Oxford Mail:

"If they were to park in the centre, they'd have to dig into their pockets."

Liane Devine, who lives opposite Mr Lewis, called not only for parking permits, but also for much-sought-after multi-storey car park at the John Radcliffe.

She recalled one recent occasion when someone parked a car directly across her driveway, blocking in her car, so her husband wrote a note and put it on the windshield.

Mrs Devine said: "I got abuse for it – this woman came and accused me of writing the note, so I told her it was my husband who did it.

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"She replied 'if he's supposed to live here', claiming, I suppose, that I'm not married and live off benefits."

Another resident, who asked not to be named, also called for parking permits to be introduced.

She pointed out that Fairfax Avenue is part of a cycling path used daily by children at nearby St Nicholas Primary School, who often do not wear helmets.

Mr Lewis supported this argument, saying: "I witnessed two cyclists being knocked off their bikes by cars.

Oxford Mail:

Even Google Maps Street View has caught a driver blocking someone else's driveway in New Marston.

"With all these cars and tall vans parked everywhere, drivers cannot see cyclists – but they don't slow down because of that."

Old Marston Parish Council, which covers New Marston, said it had been pushing for parking restrictions to be created for years.

Council clerk Tim Cann said: "The parish council have been trying to get something done about parking and traffic congestion in the whole parish for some considerable time."

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He listed numerous meetings, traffic surveys and other actions taken between 2011 and 2018.

He went on: "In November 2018 the county council undertook a parking survey but only on part of Old Marston – everything south of the Marston Ferry Road which the county council called ‘New Marston’.

"Many residents objected to this but to date no findings have been announced.

"Since then there has been several communications between the county and parish councils with no progress, manly due to county council stating that they have no funding for any controlled parking system in the Marston area."

Oxford Mail:

This van driver has parked on a white line designed to stop people blocking driveways.

Oxfordshire County Council spokesperson Chris Dyson admitted that 'at present there are no parking restrictions in Fairfax Avenue and so we are not able to carry out enforcement'.

He added: “In the longer term the Fairfax Avenue area has been identified for inclusion in a controlled parking zone and this would allow us to carry out enforcement.

“Oxfordshire County Council can only enforce where vehicles are parked in breach of a parking restriction within Oxford city.

"If vehicles are parked causing an obstruction, but not parked in breach of a restriction, we are unable to take action although police can take action and can be contacted via their non-emergency number 101."