Motorists have hit out at ‘outrageous’ parking charges in Oxford city centre amid fears the price hikes will cripple the local economy.

It currently costs £13.30 to park for two hours on St Giles and £10.50 for a three hour stay in the Worcester Street car park.

For any stay longer than eight hours, motorists are looking at charges as high as £39.10.

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Venita Campbell-Lendrum, from Wallingford, paid £5 for a 20 minute stay to drop her friend off in the city centre.

She said: “It is ridiculous. I would normally use Park and Ride but today I had no other choice.

“The car parking prices make me think each time about coming into Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

Lisa Fielder, aged 49 from Stroud, added: “This is our first time visiting Oxford and we have come to see the Ashmolean Museum.

“It has cost £10.50 for a stay of up to three hours and would definitely make me think twice about coming again.”

Around half of the parking spaces on St Giles were empty at lunchtime today, (Tuesday, July 18).

Local resident, Ian Laing, said: “The prices are outrageously high.

“They are discouraging people from coming into the centre of Oxford.

“To have this many spare spaces in peak tourist season is telling.”

The Oxford Mail asked Oxfordshire County Council for an explanation as to why the parking prices have been set at their current rates.  

Councillor Andrew Gant, cabinet member for highway management, said: “The council’s policy is to encourage people to use park and rides and avoid driving into Oxford city centre.”

But local businesses have hit out at this policy, saying that by discouraging people from driving into Oxford, the council are reducing trade.

Oxford Mail:

Ben Cook from Blue Blood Sports in the Covered Market said: “I have been working in the sports trade in Oxford for the past twenty years.

“We have seen a massive decrease in Oxford footfall because of the parking.

“You used to be able to park on Broad Street and it cost a couple of quid.

“That was perfect for the local people who just wanted to pop in and pop out.

“From my point of view, the charges are just pushing people to buy online.

“If I didn’t work in Oxford, I wouldn’t go near the place.

“Of course there are lots of people in the city centre at the moment but most of them are tourists.”

Oxford Mail:

Oxford City Council were approached for comment in relation to the claims made to this newspaper.

Councillor Louise Upton, cabinet member for planning and healthier communities, said: "Congestion in our medieval city centre has been getting worse for decades and we cannot keep adding more cars to our roads. 

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"Car parks in the city centre cost more than car parks on the edge of Oxford to encourage people to use the ‘Park and Ride’ services.

“Reducing the number of cars in the city allows public transport to run more smoothly and improves our air quality.

“Swopping some journeys from car to bus or bike is good for the environment and good for everyone’s health.

"We want visitors to take advantage of the great combined ticket we have introduced at the Park and Rides – it includes low-cost parking and excellent bus connections into town.”