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Residents braced for invasion of motorists as parking charges start
RESIDENTS living next to a park-and-ride site were last night bracing themselves for problems after transport bosses announced motorists would start to be charged next week.
Long stay parking fees will be introduced at the county council-run Thornhill and Water Eaton sites from Monday.
Residents in streets near Thornhill said they expected drivers to park on their roads to escape the charges.
David Ward, 73, of Merewood Avenue, said it was “inevitable” that the number of cars in his street would increase.
He said: “We weren’t aware it was happening on Monday, but I anticipate that within a few days, there will be more people parking in Sandhills.
“I think people are naturally going to want to avoid whatever charges they can, and the council will then stop them from doing that by putting in yellow lines everywhere, which will be bad for everyone.
“We already get people parking their cars here for a week at a time so they can go on holiday.”
He said he predicted a similar situation to the one in streets around Oxford’s Cutteslowe Park, where the city council introduced charges for parking last year, and residents have complained that park users now clog their streets.
The Thornhill park-and-ride is particularly popular with commuters, who use it to get the Oxford Tube and X90 bus services to London. The Airline bus service which serves Gatwick and Heathrow airports also uses the stops at Thornhill, but the council has argued the park-and-ride was established for people travelling into Oxford, not out of it.
From Monday, anyone parking for up to 11 hours will still park for free, but anyone staying for up to 24 will have to pay £3.
Anyone staying for two or three days will pay £3 per day, with a 72-hour maximum stay and £100 fines for anyone staying longer.
Oxfordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for transport Rodney Rose said: “Obviously not everyone is going to be happy with these new charges, but I hope most people will agree that it is not unreasonable to introduce a modest charge for parking beyond 11 hours.
“Such a charge will help protect the primary function of park-and-ride, which is for travel into Oxford. We want to safeguard the future of the county council’s park-and-ride sites and this is something we have committed to doing for some time now.
“The fees compare very favourably with long-stay charges at a rail station or city centre car park and it should also be noted that for the majority of park-and-ride users – those who travel into Oxford for work and shopping – parking will remain free.”
The new scheme has cost the council about £200,000 for machines and other changes, but it is expecting to generate £150,000 a year.
Drivers already pay for parking at the city council-controlled Peartree, Seacourt and Redbridge park-and-ride sites after daily charges of £1.50 and a weekly fee of £7.50 were introduced in October 2011.