Teachers have hit out at the county council for being “outrageous” and “unethical” when introducing increased parking charges in schools “to fill its coffers from the pockets” of workers.

School staff from Oxford voiced their concerns during Tuesday’s marathon budget meeting in County Hall where the Liberal Democrat Green Alliance group sided with Labour over the authority’s proposals.

A maximum council tax rise of 4.99 per cent was also approved during the budget meeting.

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But it was the authority’s plans to introduce a workplace parking levy (WPL) which caused the most concern among the public in attendance.

Oxford Mail: Oxford busy with traffic.Oxford busy with traffic.

Amanda Edwards-Day, a teacher at St Frideswide Primary School, said: “It would be both immoral and unethical for the council to fill its coffers from the pockets of teachers.

“Our school budget is stretched and this levy will be passed onto staff.”

A letter read out from the deputy headteacher of St Frideswide Primary School stated: “You are asking school and staff with no additional funding to pay £600 a year for the privilege of working in Oxford.

“This is outrageous.

“If you continue to add further financial penalties to staff, we will not have enough teachers.”

David Henwood, a member of the Independent Oxford Alliance, added: “Key workers often live outside the city boundary due to the prohibitive cost of housing in Oxford.

Oxford Mail: David Henwood.David Henwood.

“We estimate that the John Radcliffe would be paying in the region of £1.2million.

“The scheme permits employers to pass on the cost of the levy to their employees.

“Has the council risk assessed the impact of the proposed levy?”

The WPL is an annual charge to businesses for staff parking places at their premises.

Andrew Gant, the county council's highways boss, said: “The WPL is still at a very early stage and options for exemption will be considered in detail.”

Oxford Mail: Andrew Gant.Andrew Gant. (Image: Oxfordshire County Council.)

He urged councillors to “not keep saying that the WPL would impact schools” as “those decisions have not yet been taken”.

But Mr Gant had commented earlier on in the meeting that “a teacher in a car is still a car”.

Conservative opposition leader Eddie Reeves called for added investment into potholes and drains and a move away from “high-minded nonsense" during the meeting.

Oxford Mail: Eddie Reeves.Eddie Reeves. (Image: Eddie Reeves)

His comments come as opposition councillors have called for action on the county's roads this year following a spate of fatal crashes.

The tragic incidents which claimed the lives of five men and two women since the turn of the year have prompted calls for spending on improved road safety measures, such as 20mph limits and better road design.

Addressing the Conservative opposition, finance chief Dan Levy said: “We do need radical measures to make sure the whole of Oxfordshire works.

“We are proposing a set of measures, yet to be fully developed, to encourage people to get the bus, to use active travel and not drive.

“Those are commendable things to do and they’re not wokery.

Oxford Mail: Dan Levy.Dan Levy.

“You want to finance stuff by taking money out of our green obligations.

“That’s not a peripheral either.

“It is really important to this county and to the young people in this county.”

The Oxfordshire Liberal Democrat and Green Alliance agreed to accept a Labour amendment to their spending plans over the Conservative amendment which had called for a delaying of the “nasty” schemes.

But in the end it was the Labour amendment that was favoured by the Lib Dem and Green administration in what some opposition councillors noted bore resemblance to a former county council alliance.

Conservative councillor David Bartholomew said: “The divorcees are exploring remarriage.

“Lovers cast asunder and re-united.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Neil Fawcett said the amendment meant there were “no changes to the basis of the budget, which prioritised adult and children’s services”.

Oxford Mail: Neil Fawcett.Neil Fawcett. (Image: Vale of White Horse District Council.)

Leader of the Labour & Co-op Group, Liz Brighouse, said after the meeting: “The successful budget amendment from Labour delivers on our plan to tackle the long-term issues facing services in Oxfordshire.

“This includes investing £3 million in building a care and education system fit for the future - supporting children’s development at an early age, helping families stay together and ending the scandal of expensive out-of-county placements for children in care.”

The balanced budget presented by the Liberal Democrat and Green Alliance included an increase for adult services by 6.9 per cent in real terms.

This follows a damning special education needs (SEND) report where Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission found "widespread and systemic failings" in the county’s provision.

Oxford Mail: Protester.Protester. (Image: SEND Parents Group)

A simulator released as part of the consultation process allowed respondents to balance their own budget.

Responses from 1,364 residents suggested that SEND was the second most important issue, followed by roads in the county.

The budget comes amid the backdrop of councillors having voted to give themselves a pay rise in December, with 5.7 per cent being added to their allowances, above the rate of inflation at the time.

A final vote on the amended budget saw 37 councillors in favour, with 18 abstaining.