TRADESMEN are being driven mad by problems getting permission to park near places they are working in the centre of Oxford.

Plumber and gas heating engineer Anthony Burden said he had been told to use park-and-ride buses after being refused exemptions from parking restrictions by staff from NSL, the contractor which controls on-street parking for the county council.

The council said guidance on parking for tradesmen had not changed since it took responsibility for enforcement in city streets in 1997.

Mr Burden, from Kidlington, who often works for Oxford University colleges and shops in the historic heart of the city, said: “Before NSL took over, we had a system everyone understood.

“We could go to the old city council parking shop on a Monday and pay £15 for a permit for the week and they left us alone.

“When NSL first came in, they were very helpful. The dispensations became free and it seemed to be working well but recently we are finding it harder and harder to get them.

“We just do not know where we stand. It has become a lottery. Sometimes you get a dispensation, sometimes not.

“Small businesses need all the help they can get at the moment.

“The Government’s saying that we are vital to getting the economy going again but NSL are not helping us.”

He added: “I have asked for a permit for Turl Street and been told they have reached their limit there, then when I ask for another place nearby instead, they say ‘no’ and tell me to use the park-and-ride.”

Scaffolder Michael Palmer said: “It just seems to be getting worse and we’re losing money over it. An hour’s pay one day, a day’s pay other times. We don’t mind paying a fee, so long as we know where we stand.”

NSL said the rules on parking dispensations were a matter for the county council.

A council spokesman said: “A request for special dispensation to park in a restricted area can be made by calling 08453 371138.

“When determining whether permission can be given we have to look at the regulations in place, the presence of any other vehicles that may be working in the area, and whether there is any viable alternative for the vehicle to park legally. This involves looking at whether there is off-street parking available close by.

“These criteria have remained unchanged since the council took on responsibility for on-street parking enforcement in 1997.”

  • Have you been having problems getting parking dispensations in Oxford in connection with your job? Call William Crossley on 01865 425441.