Parking enforcement changes set to keep traffic moving

Motorists can expect to see new system in operation from November

The way parking is controlled in parts of Oxfordshire is set to change in a bid to create safer roads and help traffic flow more freely.

The government has approved Oxfordshire County Council’s bid to take on responsibility for civil parking enforcement. The council already enforces parking in Oxford City and West Oxfordshire and will now take over from Thames Valley Police in South Oxfordshire, the Vale of White Horse and Cherwell districts, ensuring continuity across the whole county when the change comes into place, which is currently expected to be on 1 November 2021.

The new arrangement will also lead to the creation of extra on-street pay and display car parking spaces in the Vale of White Horse, South Oxfordshire and Cherwell districts. These are intended to help market towns in the post COVID-19 recovery period as it leads to a greater turnover of spaces, which is better for shops and businesses.

The aim is for the new arrangement to be self-funding, with the extra pay and display spaces helping to pay for enforcement costs, although there will be some limited funding from the three districts.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “This is one of the most significant changes the county will be making in decades, and we are delighted to be bringing this change in. At the moment, residents in these affected districts are suffering from motorists who park with near impunity. Finally, we will be able to take control of managing parking offences and give local communities more input into parking enforcement in their local areas.

“We are determined to make walking and cycling easier and safer and to improve bus services, and one way to do this is to improve the flow of traffic by penalising drivers who clog up the roads through inconsiderate parking and who put pedestrians, cyclists and other road users in danger.”

Any motorists who park legally and responsibly will have nothing to fear from these changes. Oxfordshire County Council will be carrying out an information campaign in the run-up to 1 November to let drivers who are currently flouting the rules know that they can no longer get away with it. If they continue, they can expect to be fined.

Parking offences, which include overstaying in pay and display bays, double-parking, parking in disabled bays without a blue badge and on yellow lines, will be enforced by a contractor on behalf of the council. Penalty charges range from £50-£70 but will be reduced by 50 per cent if paid within 14 days.

Councillor Dan Sames, Cherwell District Council’s Lead Member for Clean and Green, said: “This will change how problem parking is enforced within Cherwell District. Enforcement will change from police officers and PCSOs to enforcement officers employed by Oxfordshire County Council. Those flouting parking regulations can expect to be dealt with more vigorously than in the past, which should deter inconsiderate and problem parking across the district. Three enforcement officers will operate initially with their focus mainly being in Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington, with other areas being dealt with as needed.”

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Cabinet Member for Strategic Partnerships and Place at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “This is very good news for all our residents and road users. Illegal parking creates congestion in our towns, resulting in a negative impact on local air quality, delays to public transport and potentially more serious issues for our emergency services. I’m pleased that we have been able to work with the county council, Cherwell and South Oxfordshire to create this new enforcement scheme and look forward to its introduction later in the year.”

Councillor David Rouane, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “I’m delighted the Department for Transport has approved this application. Once introduced, these measures will help us to ease congestion locally and be more effective when it comes to managing road safety. It will also help to free up police resources, strengthening neighbourhood policing and allowing them to focus more on the crimes that matter most to residents.”

Once civil enforcement comes into force, members of the public will be able to report areas and incidents of illegal parking through a dedicated email address and telephone line. Officers will investigate and take enforcement action as required.

More details are available on the Oxfordshire County Council website.

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