Business chiefs join call for free parking but CDC stands firm

Richard Hunter, chairman of Banbury & District Chamber of Commerce
Richard Hunter, chairman of Banbury & District Chamber of Commerce

Banbury’s business leaders have added their voice to those calling for two hours’ free parking in the town despite continued claims from Cherwell District Council that it is not financially viable.

Responding to a survey conducted by Banbury & DistrictChamber of Commerce, 83 per cent of respondents said free parking was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to them personally, with 87 per cent calling for two hours’ free parking before any charges are made.

The Chamber’s chairman, Richard Hunter, said: “We are keen to ensure that issues raised by our members are represented to Cherwell District Council. Free car parking for Banbury town centre is clearly a persistent issue for businesses and shoppers, as this survey shows.”

Seventy-five of the Chamber’s 120 members responded to the e-mail survey, conducted between January 16 and February 7 this year.

Around half of the responses were from businesses on industrial estates or outlying areas of Banbury, but a number said they avoid the town centre or go elsewhere to shop because of the parking issue.

Survey participants also suggested a number of solutions to replace lost parking revenues, including a new tariff where initial free parking is offset by increased rates for longer term parking.

But following the approval of Cherwell District Council’s budget proposals on Monday, council leaders said it is not possible to offer free parking and balance the budget for the year 2014-5 at the same time as freezing council tax contributions for residents.

Council leader Barry Wood said: “We give priority to not putting up council tax.

“That means in the end you can’t necessarily afford to get rid of other income streams.

He added the council was ‘not against free parking in principle’ and needed to look at solutions where businesses could be persuaded to offer parking similar to the model recently introduced by the Sainsbury’s store in Bicester.

The results of the Banbury & District Chamber of Commerce survey have been passed to CDC.

>> Page 7: Council balances books despite cuts

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