EXTRA police are being deployed to the streets of Oxfordshire to control parking as local authorities zigzag around whose responsibility it is.

After years of outcry from South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse residents about chronic illegal parking, both district councils publicly are planning to take over enforcement from the police.

The district are two of the few areas across the country where parking is not decriminalised and the only two district councils in the Thames Valley Police are which don't either police parking or help fund police to do so.

Decriminalisation would mean that responsibility for enforcing on-street parking restrictions, such as double-yellow lines and issuing parking tickets, would fall to the council rather than the police.

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However while the councils prepare to take on the mantle, police have now agreed to start enforcing more in certain areas based on where problems are worst.

The issue was taken up by Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (and former Vale council leader) Matthew Barber and raised with both the local area commander and the chief constable.

The outcome has been the increased targeted enforcement by Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) as an interim measure.

When the policy changes were discussed in 2018, leader of Vale of White Horse Liberal Democrat group Emily Smith (now the council's leader) argued this would mean parking enforcement would be more responsive and would free up police officers’ time to get on with other matters.

Oxford Mail:

Didcot town councillor Steve Connel showing some of the parking problems on Haydon Road.

Commenting on the initiative, Mr Barber said: "There are many competing demands on the police and they have rightly been focussing on issues such as reducing violence, burglary, rural crime and the drug trade.

"Nevertheless, in the absence of any other enforcement, local residents are understandably concerned about the impact of illegal parking on road safety, traffic flows and local businesses.

"I am delighted that Thames Valley Police is embarking on a targeted enforcement programme in South and Vale to fill the gap whilst the councils pursue decriminalisation."

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Mr Barber added that he has written to both district councils and town councils in both areas to highlight this new effort by the police and asking them to look to provide continuing support to the police to allow this to continue.

A joint statement by the county council and South and Vale district councils said: "We are exploring the business case for implementing civil parking enforcement.

"A cross-authority officer-led working group commissioned an initial feasibility study to consider different operating options available to the councils including the required investment for such a scheme."

A spokesperson confirmed the study’s results are due to be completed and presented to council officers in early summer.

In a post on the Facebook group Wantage and Grove Community, residents applauded the prospect of additional targeted enforcement in the area.

Many users took the opportunity to highlight which roads in particular should be prioritised by PCSOs.

Wantage locals agreed that town centre streets including Newbury Street, Wallingford Street, Mill Street, Church Street and the disabled bays are where parking is problematic.

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One Facebook user Bob Patten, frustrated with the current problems in his area, even implored for higher charges: "This is very good news that action is imminent.

"An occasional fine needs to be at least double the £30 proposed and legally enforceable as parkers will still be in pocket over a period of time compared to paying parking charges and they may just ignore the charge anyway and not pay the fine.

"The £30 proposal may not be the deterrent we need to keep the streets clear for all users especially emergency services, disability users and buggy/pushchair users."