THE city council’s transport strategy has come under attack by one of its own councillors – just as the Oxpens car park is set to close for three months.

In order for disused decking to be taken down, the car park – overseen by Oxford City Council – will shut from Monday, with the closure expected to last for 13 weeks.

Transport policy though, has been blasted by the council’s Liberal Democrat group leader, Andrew Gant.

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He said: “Once again, the Labour city leadership is fiddling at the edges of the bold vision we need for transport in our city.

“They talk about encouraging changes to parking and driving, but their policy has done exactly the opposite by providing a vast, cheap car park at Westgate which sucks polluting congestion into the city centre, often driving right past the city council’s white elephant Seacourt Park and Ride extension, which cost £5 million of taxpayers’ money and hasn’t even opened.”

Oxford Mail: Oxford City Council’s Liberal Democrat group leader, Andrew Gant. Picture: Ed NixOxford City Council’s Liberal Democrat group leader, Andrew Gant. Picture: Ed Nix

In response to Mr Gant’s comments, the council’s deputy leader, Tom Hayes, said the local authority is ‘working to create a sustainable and reliable transport system’.

Mr Hayes said: “The council agrees that we need to adopt bold measures to address Oxford’s congested and polluted roads.

“That’s why in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council, we’ve introduced Britain’s first Zero Emission Zone pilot in key city centre streets, and outlined our ambition to do more, go further, and be bolder through our proposals for a city-wide workplace parking levy, traffic filters and a wider zero emission zone.

“The council’s Oxpens car park will temporarily close next week to allow the now disused car park decking to be removed, foreshadowing its eventual permanent closure as part of the Oxpens mixed housing and commercial development, the most significant development taking place in the city centre.

Oxford Mail: Oxford City Council’s deputy leader, Tom Hayes. Picture: Ed NixOxford City Council’s deputy leader, Tom Hayes. Picture: Ed Nix

“This, coupled with the 40 per cent reduction in parking spaces in the new Westgate centre compared to the old, and the planned eventual closure of the Worcester Street car park, will significantly reduce parking availability in the city centre, making the park and rides an even more attractive proposition.

“We are working to create a sustainable and reliable transport system for Oxford. Encouraging use of one of the five park and rides that provide a convenient and economical way to get into the city centre, is one of the recommendations.

“At their core, our proposals aim to create quicker, more reliable journeys on public transport, and to support cycling in the city as an alternative to driving. A public consultation on these updated proposals will be taking place this summer.”

The city council’s cabinet made the decision to remove the decking on January 22, and once dismantled, the recoverable steel will be sold.

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