New district-wide parking charges have been called ‘inappropriate’ and a ‘cash grab’ by opponents representing one of the towns affected.

In a Wallingford council meeting on Monday evening, councillors unanimously voted against South Oxfordshire District Council’s new proposed parking charges.

Two district councils – Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils – are planning to make changes to the way they manage their off-street parking: the large, ticketed car parks which they run.

Under the proposed parking plans, visitors in Wallingford would have to pay for parking on Sundays, and standard charging periods and times between 9am-5pm would be introduced including an hour’s free parking at any time during that period.

Plans also include additional parking for electric vehicles and powers to issue fines for parking non-electric vehicles in electric charging bays, or for leaving an electric vehicle in the bay when it is not charging.

Wallingford councillors believe the parking charges would discourage people from shopping in the town and that it is not the right time to be implementing this change.

Councillor Daniel Beauchamp said: “Having spoken to a number of traders in town, it doesn’t seem to make sense at this point when people are really struggling.”

Councillor Deborah Whelan thought there was not the infrastructure in place for electric cars.

She said: “I think if they do want to start charging more for car parking and then not charge for electric vehicles then really, we need some power points in town.

“I think they need to put some infrastructure in before they even consider changing the pricing.”

Other councillors believe it is just a money-making scheme and that the parking charges are not suitable for Wallingford.

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Councillor Rob McGregor said: “I see this as a cash grab from the district council. I don’t think any of the reasons they put forward are legitimate and I think they are just looking to squeeze cash out of Wallingford.”

Councillor Marcus Harris said: “There is a point in this plan that says the parking should be about facilitating the market towns.

“You cannot lump us all together. We are not the same as Henley and we are not the same as Didcot. We are Wallingford.

“We need to attract people to come and buy. If we do not give our residents two hours free parking, they are going to go to the Orchard Centre [in Didcot] or Sainsbury’s where they get five hours free parking.”

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Clair Holford also opposed the new parking charges, saying it was not the right time or year to be imposing it and would discourage tourists.

Mayor of Wallingford, Lee Upcraft agreed with other councillors and said: “At the moment I think this is completely inappropriate for Wallingford.”