Bargain hunters clog roads round Bicester Village again

The Oxford Times: Queues of traffic from the M40 junction towards Bicester Queues of traffic from the M40 junction towards Bicester

MEASURES to reduce Boxing Day traffic jams outside Bicester Village could not stop customers clogging up residential streets again this year.

Extra parking was available, and shops opened earlier in an effort to reduce congestion at the booming designer outlet.

But the retail park – one of the biggest of its kind in Europe – was again inundated with shoppers looking for a Boxing Day bargain, with 2012’s near-40,000 total likely to have been matched.

The retail centre employs more than 1,000 people and draws in shoppers from across Britain, while hordes of tourists travel from abroad to visit.

The Boxing Day rush has regularly blocked up local streets since the site opened in 1995.

Significant congestion was reported on the A34, A41 and M40, and some drivers ignored notices calling on them to avoid parking in residential streets.

Sallie Wright, 69, who lives in Colne Close, off Kings Avenue, said some shoppers moved cones put up to stop people parking.

“It is no better than last year,” she said.

“It is extremely frustrating. They make their promises every year that it is going to get better.

“We actually ended up coning off the end of our close to try to restrict the traffic. The whole thing is just hideous.”

Resident Mary Grant, 69, who lives in Old Place Yard, just behind the outlet shopping centre, said: “It has definitely got worse this year.

“They should close on Boxing Day and give their staff more time off.”

But Priory Lane residents Ted and Barbara Houlihan said that although the traffic was still bad, things had improved. Mr Houlihan, 75, said: “I feel sorry for the people who live in Old Place Yard.

“There are a lot of older people who will have people visiting today who won’t find a place to park.”

Mrs Houlihan, also 75, added: “Being truthful, I don’t think it is worse than last year. I think it has got a bit better.”

Village community relations director Miranda Markham said efforts had been made to deal with the problem, including: s Park and ride services from four sites s A special train service from London Marylebone which by 4pm yesterday had been used by more than 1,000 customers s Extended opening hours, from 8am to 9pm, compared to 9am to 8pm last year.

She also said the outlet’s plan for a £11m investment in the infrastructure around the centre, including a new purpose-built park and ride, would help avoid similar problems in the future.

She added: “Most people visiting are people from abroad or domestic tourists, and with first-time visitors it is always difficult to change their habits. But we have been really promoting the fact that our reductions are in place from early December.”

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