Drivers will soon face a hike in prices at council car parks and Wantage business owners fear it will deter shoppers.

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.

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The change in parking charges could start in April and will apply to car parking in the district including Abingdon and Wantage. However, the changes to the free two hours will not come into effect in Faringdon.

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Business in Wantage fear the changes will deter people from shopping in the town.

Carrie Williams, owner of the Wantage furniture shop Creations, said: "It defiantly will deter people, what can you do in an hour? I sell furniture so it is not good for me if people want to walk."

Owner of The Panini Shop, Ahemed Elaboussi is worried shoppers are less likely to spend time in the town if their free parking is cut to one hour.

The café owner believes taking public transport and cycling into Wantage is not an option for many people who live in surrounding villages.

He said: "Reducing the two hours free to one hour will put people off or just put people in a hurry."

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He added: "People commute into Wantage from small villages and towns and I do not think there will be enough busses to take people into Wantage. Parking is essential for smaller towns."

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The district council have said it will continue to monitor car park usage to see if the changes have any impact on the number of people visiting the towns.

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.”

She added: “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.

“In recent years we’ve been severely impacted by cuts to government funding and the loss of income due to Covid.  We also have one of the lowest rates of council tax in the country which places a further strain on our finances.  When costs have increased, current rules have largely prevented us from addressing this situation, meaning we’ve had to increase charges for some of our non-statutory services in order to raise additional income.”

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