Tag Archives: Car parking

Free Town Centre Parking – Consultation

This was circulated to local councillors today. When it says ‘towns’ it particularly refers to Abingdon, Faringdon and Wantage. Parking at West Way Shopping Centre in Botley is already free. There’s a link at the bottom to more information.

A consultation has been launched on proposals to changes to council parking in the Vale of White Horse District Council area.

Residents, businesses and visitors to the area are being given the chance to have their say on plans that could see a free period of two hours being introduced to help boost the local economy in the Vale’s towns.

Councillor Matthew Barber, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “The big change being proposed is the two hours of free parking – this has the potential to benefit both residents and businesses in the area’s towns.

“If things go to plan we will be able to implement the changes by the start of December which will be great news for anyone shopping or doing business in the run-up to Christmas.

“For many people two hours is enough to go shopping or attend appointments. Very few places in the UK are this generous, but we need to know what people locally think.

“There are also some other detailed changes being proposed that are needed to help us run the car parks efficiently but, again, we are asking for people’s views before anything is decided.”

The 21 day consultation period has now begun.

To find out more about the proposed changes and to submit your views visit www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/haveyoursay, email carparks@southandvale.gov.uk or you can view the documents at White Horse District Council’s offices, Abbey House, Abbey Close, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 3JE or phone 01235 547665.

Free parking to increase town business?

My colleague Councillor Angela Lawrence, today wrote on her blog:

COUNCILLORS will push ahead with free parking in Abingdon and Wantage despite warnings it is unaffordable.
The Conservatives promised free short-stay parking in council car parks by Christmas after taking control of Vale of White Horse District Council in May.

To read the whole post, see her blog: Councillor Angela Lawrence’s blog

Vale officers warned the cabinet on 8 July 2011 that spending cuts will be needed elsewhere to make up for lost income, forecast to be £250,000 a year.

In the Herald coverage, Council leader Matthew Barber said the council was committed to the scheme and the expense was something he had planned for. He said the council was likely to use the home bonus cash and make some (unspecified) long-term savings. What he didn’t mention was all the parking fees are going up top help cover this cost! When you pay for parking, you;ll now pay more.

Richard Webber, the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, said the free parking promise was “electoral bribery”. He said: “It’s a promise they frankly should not have made. I’m really anxious about what’s going to have to go to pay for it.”

The previous, Lib Dem led council, had already given 2 hrs free parking (after 4pm is free instead of after 6pm). Under the new plans, those hours will not be exempt.

The Abingdon Herald ran some polls (as they do).

Should the Conservative-controlled Vale council push ahead with plans for free parking despite the view of its chief finance officer?

20% Yes, 80% No

They took it down before I could get a picture of it.

The second question was: “Do you believe providing free parking will increase business for traders in our towns?

Free Car Parking in Abingdon – the 5 minute decision

After less than 5 minutes of debate and consideration of the complexities of financing this scheme, the 5 conservative members of the Vale cabinet decided to provide free 2hr car parking for well-off car drivers who want to park in Abingdon town centre.This was despite a strong recommendation from the financial officers that the scheme not be adopted.

They also decided to raise residents’ parking permit fees, commuters’ permit fees, and fees to park longer than 2 hours.

But the main source of funding for this £1,000,000 will be the new homes bonus reserves. These are the funds paid to the Vale by large developers to support and enhance the community infrastructure where they are building swathes of new homes.

So, no new playgounds, no youth centres, no community halls for over-populated neighbourhoods in exchange for the well-off car drivers having 2 hours of free parking while they shop.

I find this annoying, to say the least.

It’s too late to convince the Tories not to do it. All we can do is ask the hard questions:

  1. How much is this costing and how is the cost being re-couped?
  2. What metrics are in place to measure the effectiveness of this free car parking on the vitality of the town centre?

Email, write, or ring them up. Let them know how you feel about this.

Free Car Parking – I wrote a letter

I wrote a letter to the Vale of White Horse cabinet, urging them to reconsider their plans for free car parking in Abingdon.

Here’s what I said:

Dear Matthew,

I’m writing to members of the VoWH Cabinet to encourage you to decide against free car parking in Abingdon.

I represent the people of North Hinksey & Wytham ward. We’re about as remote from Abingdon as can be, and few of us ever venture into Abingdon town centre. As a result, this proposal offers us no benefits, and will probably result in cuts to services that DO affect us, to offset the income lost from car parking charges. For example, discontinuing Unvaled to save some money — that newsletter is delivered to every household in the Vale — it benefits everyone!

I read the recently published report where the financial officer “strongly recommends against” the proposed free parking, for several reasons. These reasons alone support the fiscally responsible decision to abandon the proposed free parking for Abingdon.

If there is no evidence that free car parking improves footfall in town centres, and there is no fiscally responsible plan to make up for the lost income (approx £1,000,000 over the term of this council), and it benefits only a few residents (those who drive their cars into Abingdon), I can’t see the case for proceeding with this.

Taking action that is opposed to the financial officer’s strong recommendation against this proposal is dangerous to our finances, and will damage the reputation of your Conservative legacy in the Vale. It benefits a small group, by small amounts of money, but represents a very large ongoing expense in these times of central cuts to council income streams.

Please don’t do it. Don’t risk your legacy by taking a first big decision based on mis-guided ideas that benefit a few, cost too much and won’t help in the longer term.

Cllr Debby Hallett


01865 435794

Take a few minutes and send your thoughts to the Vale Cabinet. There emails are in the post linked to in Related Reading, just below.

Related reading: Free Car Parking – recommend against

Free Car Parking in Abingdon – “recommend against”

In preparation for considering the short term free parking in Abingdon car parks this week (on the 8th of July 2011), the Vale of White Horse officers have published a helpful report.

Read it here: http://whitehorsedc.moderngov.co.uk/Published/C00000507/M00001571/AI00015873/$FreeshortstayparkingreportJuly2011v8final.docA.ps.pdf

In summary:

  1. Under the proposed scheme, income will not meet expenses.
  2. Net loss is expected to be about £200,000 per year. That’s £1,000,000 in the next 5 years.
  3. There is no evidence that free parking increases footfall in town centres.
  4. If the Tories authorise using “new homes bonuses” from developers to subsidize free parking, then those funds are not available for enhancing community services or infrastructure.
  5. The financial officer “strongly recommends against” adopting the free parking scheme.

In my view, adopting the free parking scheme is a wrong action to take, given the following:

  1. There  is no evidence free car parking will be effective at revitlizing Abingdon town centre

  2. There isn’t a plan to pay for it

  3. Income to local councils is expected to be limited further by the central government, and this is an income already in place (therefore not too painful, and difficult to replace).

And finally, this free parking scheme benefits a small sub-group of the Vale population: those who drive their cars into Abingdon during daytime hours. For those of us who don’t do that, it provides no benefit, and LOTS of costs, which will have to be made-up somehow, presumably in cuts to services.


If you agree with me, write to the cabinet members today.

  • Matthew.Barber@WhiteHorsedc.gov.uk
  • Roger.Cox@WhiteHorsedc.gov.uk
  • Yvonne.Constance@WhiteHorsedc.gov.uk
  • Reg.Waite@WhiteHorsedc.gov.uk
  • Elaine.Ware@WhiteHorsedc.gov.uk