COUNTY council transport officers will investigate the horrendous traffic around Bicester Village on Boxing Day.

And one town councillor called the problem a “ticking timebomb” that must be tackled now.

More than 30,000 people visited the shopping centre on December 26, causing some drivers to abandon their cars on the A41.

Tailbacks stretched back to Junction 9 of the M40 while the inconsiderate parking forced police to shut one side of the road between the Oxford Road and London Road roundabouts.

The verges of the A41 had been cordoned off by December 27 and, although busy, the crowds did not reach the numbers experienced on Boxing Day.

County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “The council will always strongly advise motorists not to leave their vehicles in areas which aren’t designated for parking.

“Officers will look at all the factors which might have contributed to the Boxing Day traffic issues at Bicester Village and will consider this information as part of the on-going work being done to ensure that traffic is effectively managed in the area.”

Bicester town councillor Les Sibley, who is also the Labour leader of Cherwell District Council, said action must be taken sooner rather than later, with a park-and-ride site at Junction 9 the most pressing concern.

He said: “It’s like a ticking timebomb. The population is growing, the town is growing and then we have got this influx of people (to Bicester Village), and it’s coming from all areas. On one side you’ve got the successes, but on the other you’ve got the downside that no one seems to be able to handle the traffic. I think a case is now made for a park-and-ride, and the new railway service linking Bicester Town with Marylebone will hopefully come onstream sooner rather than later.”

Mr Sibley said the Olympics will bring extra tourists to the region and stressed something must be done by then.

Bicester Village spokesman Miranda Markham said Boxing Day was the busiest day the centre had seen since opening in 1995.

She said: “It was a special, unprecedented day. It was exceptionally busy but we were expecting it. It’s the busiest day in the year by a large margin.”

The centre provided a park-and-ride service with an extra 500 spaces at Bicester Garrison and 300 at Bicester Community College, but they were soon full.

Mrs Markham said the majority of visitors were tourists and some would have come to Bicester rather than London because of the Tube strikes.

She also said the mild weather helped to bring more outvisitors, adding: “We are not a sales shopping venue.

“It is more about tourists in particular wanting a day out.”

James Porter, Conservative leader at Bicester Town Council, said: “It is unfortunate and disruptive when there are traffic jams like that, but on the other side of the coin the village does bring a lot of employment to the area.

“Generally the village does try hard to try to minimise it.”