The city council car park at Oxpens is reopening ahead of schedule on Saturday but it will be cashless payments only from now on.

The council temporarily closed the car park opposite the Westgate Centre on May 16 so that disused car park decking could be dismantled and removed.

The work to reopen the site, which included removing the decking, resurfacing the site and reinstalling lighting columns, has been completed ahead of schedule, with the site originally due to reopen on August 19.

Read again: Oxpens car park to close for three months

The car park, which has 178 parking spaces, has also gone cashless, like other city council car parks earlier this year.

Oxford Mail:

Drivers will be able to use cards, or mobile phones (via RingGo) to pay for parking.

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport, said: We’ve been trialling cashless payments at two of our car parks throughout this year and the transition has gone smoothly for most users.

"The car parks are joining the many areas where cashless payment is the norm – in shops, in pubs, or when using council services.

"Most car park users in Oxford have been using cashless payment methods for a long time.

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"And for the council, this represents a way to reduce the administrative cost of operating our car parks at a time when our finances are stretched."

Oxford Mail:

Parking will remain available at Oxpens until it is permanently closed as part of the Oxpens redevelopment.

The car park provides an alternative for shoppers when the Westgate car park is full.

It is also popular with people using the ice rink next door.

In May Liberal Democrat city councillor Andrew Gant was critical of the council's policy on car parks.

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

Oxford Mail:

“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 £5m of taxpayers’ money and hasn’t even opened.”

The council has trialling cashless payments across its car parks.

Gloucester Green and Worcester Street car parks moved to cashless earlier this year.

Most drivers have already ceased paying by cash in favour of the other methods.

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The council will install new signs at the reopened Oxpens car park to make sure users are aware of the change. The council approved the move to going cashless for all its services in February 2021. Since then, work has been ongoing to remove cash payments across Council services.

Oxford Mail:

The change to cashless payments will not affect car parking run by other operators, including Westgate Oxford or Oxfordshire County Council’s on-street parking places.

For more information on the council’s plans for going cashless visit the ‘going cashless’ webpage.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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