Car parking fees are set to increase in council car parks, but shoppers in Abingdon feel the price hike will just put people off from visiting.

The Vale of White Horse District Council will be increasing parking fees by 40p, slashing the time drivers can park for free from two hours to one and increasing permit costs by 10 per cent.

Council taxpayers have been subsidising district council car parks for many years with the service running at a loss of almost £450,000 following the pandemic. In a district council meeting on February 4, Cabinet members agreed changes which balance the need to reduce the deficit.

The council hope the price hike will maximise income, encourage people to cycle and improve air quality. The change in parking charges could start in April and will apply to car parking in the district including Abingdon.

Many shoppers in Abingdon also do not agree the parking price change will be a good thing for the town.

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Georgia Taylor said: “It is annoying, even though it is only a few pence. This town has nothing here and they need to be encouraging people to come in rather than deter them.”

Marianne Meiring said: “It will put people off. It won’t encourage people to cycle and walk, people are too wedded to their cars."

She added: “I think the intention is good, but in practice it won’t work. Why use the local shops when you can park in the supermarket for nothing?”

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Paul Saunders said: “I think it will deter people and a lot of shops have closed because of Covid in Abingdon.”

However, some shoppers do not think it will make that much difference.

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Rachel Mason-Salkeld said: “It is not much, and it is fair play to the council, they need money to supply services and they are not getting that much from central government.”

Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “The measures we’ve agreed mark a significant step to reducing our car parks deficit and our first real step towards making this service financially sustainable.

“We have committed to providing free parking in our car parks to ensure the service works to support local businesses.  An hour’s free parking each day will be in line with what’s on offer to motorists in South Oxfordshire. Parking in the Vale continues to offer good value for money.  Our fees remain cheaper than many other areas, including Oxford, Swindon and Newbury, and we will continue to monitor car park usage so that we can understand whether this change has any impact on the number of people visiting our towns.

“In considering the changes we looked closely at our commitment to tackling the climate emergency.  We know that many of our residents want to see more public transport and safer and easier cycling and walking routes rather than simply continuing to subsidise car parking.”

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