RESIDENTS claim new rules mean a ban on student cars cannot be enforced in Oxford.

And they have called for a moratorium on new student accommodation as a result.

Members of the Divinity Road Area Residents Association (Drara) said the universities cannot police a “no cars” rule at student halls because the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will no longer supply ownership details.

And they said emails from senior staff at Oxford City Council and Oxford Brookes University, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, prove their case.

But the university and city planners are adamant the current policy, aimed at alleviating parking congestion, is still effective.

Under planning regulations, students living in purpose-built accommodation cannot have a car and the rule is a condition of new developments being approved.

To enforce the rule, Brookes used the DVLA to check ownership details of parked vehicles it suspected belonged to students.

But recent Freedom of Information requests by Drara revealed the DVLA arrangement had ended.

In an email to Oxford East MP Andrew Smith dated October 12, 2009, Anne Gwinnett, Brookes director of corporate affairs, said: “We have now learned that DVLA will no longer provide this information to us (or any other university), unless the vehicle is parked on university land, which means that it will become almost impossible for us to identify student cars parked in local streets.

She added the ability to police the policy would be “severely diminished”.

Residents association member Sietske Boeles said it was clear the policy was now unenforceable.

She said: “We are calling for a complete moratorium on new planning permissions for student accommodation until means are found to enforce the policy. The situation has completely broken down.”

She added: “It is not just inconvenience any more, it is an issue of highway safety – people park on pavements and people park on corners. Emergency vehicles can’t get through.”

The university said the situation had since moved on.

Dr Gwinnett said: “All our students living in university accommodation are banned from bringing cars to the city, and we do all we can within the limitations of the law to enforce this.

“We recently wrote to every student in halls reminding them they are not allowed to bring their cars to Oxford, and our new student community warden scheme, being piloted shortly in the area, will allow us to closely monitor the situation.”

Council head of planning Michael Crofton-Briggs said the council believed the policy was still enforceable despite the DVLA’s change of heart.

A DVLA spokesman confirmed the policy had changed and added: “Information about the keeper of a vehicle can only be released in very specific circumstances, ie either to those who have a statutory right to know, such as the police, or those who have a reasonable cause to request it, such as someone who has suffered a loss or injury arising from the use of a vehicle.”