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Vale Cabinet to consider proposals to make car parking sustainable

Vale of White Horse District Council’s Cabinet is to consider proposals to make the district’s car parking more financially sustainable.

Council taxpayers have been subsidising car parking across the Vale for many years. This was costing taxpayers around £300,000 each year, and during Covid this has risen to £450,000 per year.

By making sure free parking remains available, the proposals aim to balance support for town centre businesses, adequate parking provision, environmental concerns and financial sustainability.

Like councils across the country, the Vale is facing significant financial pressures in the future and has also seen a significant drop in income from parking following the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday 4 February, Cabinet members will consider measures the council could take to reduce the loss the car parks make, including an option to replace the two-hour free parking in district council car parks with a one-hour free parking period. This would be in line with the offer available in South Oxfordshire but would still mean that parking in the Vale remains significantly cheaper than Oxford.

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Before making any decisions, we will take a very careful look at what the proposals might mean for the council and our district, particularly any potential impact on residents and businesses.

“Like all councils we are facing significant financial pressures in the coming years due to ongoing cuts in government funding, increased costs and loss of income due to Covid. The Vale also charges one of the lowest rates of council tax in the country so we have to carefully prioritise how we can best use our resources.

“We also need to consider our commitment to addressing the climate emergency. By subsidising car parks as we have been, we are supporting the use of private cars, when many of our residents want to see more public transport and safer, easier cycling and walking routes.”

Any changes to parking fees will be introduced later this year and will be widely publicised before they commence.

For more information, please see the Cabinet meeting agenda.


Notes for editors

Council funds and residents’ council tax subsidise the car parks and further support comes from a central government grant known as New Homes Bonus, which is based mainly on new homes being built in the district.  However, without a firm commitment from the government to extend this funding beyond 2023/24 the council has to prepare for the possibility of it ending and take appropriate action now to protect vital services in the future.