COUNCILLORS could raise more than £170,000 a year and keep eight libraries open if they gave up free parking at County Hall, claims a library campaigner.

There are currently 16 parking spaces and five disabled spaces in front of Oxfordshire County Council offices in New Road which councillors can use for nothing.

But according to one eagle-eyed driver, just charging the public for those spaces could raise thousands to keep open threatened libraries.

The County Council announced in November that it was planning to cut all funding from 20 out of 43 libraries in the county to save £2m over four years. It has said it will re-examine the plans.

Bampton resident Mark McArthur-Christie, fighting to save the village’s threatened branch, said: “If those spaces were let at commercial rates, taking Worcester Street as a good guide, each space could be worth £24.20 a day.

“That’s £484 a day by charging for 20 spaces.

“Like every other space in the city, they’re charged 365 days a year, that’s £176,660 of revenue currently lost to the county each year.”

He added: “Charge for the spaces and they would pay to keep Deddington, Kennington, Adderbury, Charlbury, Bampton, Old Marston, North Leigh and Stonesfield libraries open.”

Parking in Worcester Street car park for between eight and 24 hours currently costs £24.20, rising to £30.30 on a Saturday.

Mr McArthur-Christie said he got the idea while out shopping on a Saturday morning and seeing cars parked at County Hall.

He said: “I don’t have any problem with councillors parking for free. What gets me is that everyone else has to pay and we’re all told not to use our cars.

“If there is a way we can raise money and save even one library, then it’s worth it.”

Neil Clark, from the Save Botley Library campaign, said: “Everyone else has to pay for parking so why not the council?

“We do not think any frontline services need to be cut.

“We should look at councillors’ parking and their salaries before we look at cutting anything else. We shouldn’t be even discussing this.”

He added: “This is another example of the council being ‘do as we say and not as we do’. It is a real them and us attitude.”

“Instead of looking at themselves and how they could raise money, they are instead cutting services.”

Council spokesman Gemma Watts said: “The council has not considered this. However, it is working hard to keep Oxfordshire’s libraries open.”

She added: “A full consultation will begin in May.”