After a decision was taken to close the Westgate Centre car park when it approaches full capacity in the run-up to Christmas, to prevent long traffic queues, we look back at the old car park and traffic issues in recent years.

The old Westgate Centre car park was built for the opening of the shopping centre in 1972.

But by the time it came to be demolished in 2015 it was totally run down and unpopular with shoppers, with many shunning it to park elsewhere.

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The new 1,000-space car park, which opened with the revamped £440m centre in 2017, has been a huge improvement.

But problems of congestion in the run-up to Christmas have happened every year, despite additional spaces being available in the Oxpens car park. Some spaces were removed in 2018.

Oxford Mail:

Traffic queues in Oxpens Road in 2018

The county council has introduced a temporary traffic regulation order, which means the 1,000-space shopping centre car park can be closed when it becomes 90 per cent full, or the traffic queues on Thames Street or Oxpens Road, approaching the entrance, reach 10 minutes or more.

Traffic can sometimes be reduced to a standstill in Oxpens Road in the run-up to Christmas and in the New Year.

Shoppers in January 2018 leaving the centre at about 4pm said it took them more than 20 minutes of queuing before they could get out.

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Dave Dyson, 24, from Reading, on a shopping trip with friend Connor Price, 25, also from Reading, said: "The shops have some good bargains but it did take far too long to get out of the car park."

Oxford Mail:

Dave Dyson and Connor Price

Elaine Howley, 56, from Littlemore, who parked at Westgate for a shopping trip with daughter Lily, 26, and her son Joey Bishop, one, said: "We left about 2.30pm and had to queue to get out - it wasn't too bad but we had to queue up on the steep hill outside before the lights changed to let us out."

Oxford Mail:

Elaine Howley left on a family shopping trip in 2018

This time last year city centre traffic often slowed as vehicles queuing to get into the Westgate Centre car park when it was already full caused heavy congestion.

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On some occasions, journeys from West Way in Botley to Thames Street were taking more than 40 minutes.