Councillors have reversed one aspect of the controversial Oxford Transport Strategy by allowing the return of short-stay parking to Broad Street, writes Andrew Ffrench.

Yesterday, city and county councillors bowed to traders' demands for the return of half of the parking spaces scrapped as part of the OTS in 1999.

Members of the Oxford Transport Strategy Working Party voted to approve a scheme for the return of pay-and-display parking for 25 cars.

It should be in place in time for Christmas shopping, when parking will be restricted to a maximum of two hours.

The decision to bring back short-stay parking could, however, be reversed when a full-scale revamp of Broad Street is carried out in a few years. Graham Jones, a spokesman for Rescue Oxford (Rox), which has campaigned for the return of parking spaces in Broad Street, said: "This is a great breakthrough and a victory for common sense.

"Ideally, we would like to see more than 25 spaces brought back but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

"We hope that parking is a permanent part of the arrangements for Broad Street when a proper scheme is finalised."

Frank Watson, chairman of the Broad Street Retailers' Association, added: "This is a major step forward and it is pleasing that the decision has been taken after a general consensus from interested parties."

The Oxford Preservation Trust and the Oxford Civic Society will now put forward their own long-term proposals for Broad Street. The county council's assistant director of transport development, Eddie Luck, said the return of short-stay parking in Broad Street did not signal the beginning of the end for the OTS.

Mr Luck said: "We have listened and responded to people's genuine concerns.

"The OTS is working well and has achieved objectives in reducing traffic flow."

Liberal Democrat city councillors Jean Fooks and and Stephen Struthers suggested that 12 car spaces rather than 25 might be a better option but the 25-space option was agreed.

Green city councillor Dr Mike Woodin abstained from the vote after warning that the return of parking spaces would be a "step backwards" because it would make it more difficult for pedestrians to cross the road at the junction with Parks Road, by the King's Arms.

The decision is likely to be rubber-stamped by the next meeting of the county council highways committee, on August 25.