Poster puts parking bid in the public eye

Malcolm Douglas pictured on Banbury's High Street
Malcolm Douglas pictured on Banbury's High Street

A Banbury shopkeeper is stepping up his crusade for two hours’ free parking in the town centre with the launch of a poster campaign.

Malcolm Douglas, owner of the men’s clothing store Henry’s in High Street, has campaigned for free parking for many years and in January he launched a Twitter and Facebook campaign to put pressure on Cherwell District Council.

Now more than 300 yellow posters, designed by The Artery’s Barry Whitehouse, have been printed and about half of them have already been distributed across the town in a bid to rally the troops.

Mr Douglas said: “We’re not asking for free parking full stop. We’re asking for two hours’ free parking and then after that people will have to pay.

“If you get the first two hours for free you feel much better about staying longer; it’s self evident.

“Bicester and Witney have got the same thing. There are no empty shops available in Witney, Bicester is growing and business there is going well too. But in Banbury, well, pick a shop! How many do you want?

“We’re turning into a town filled with charity and betting shops.”

Mr Douglas added the issue is apparent among his customers.

“A lot of my customers say they’re not going to bother coming to Banbury anymore because of the parking and that really hurts because we’ve worked so hard building our business, but the council doesn’t care.”

Mr Douglas said the town’s smaller independent businesses are already displaying the posters in their shop windows.

He said: “We’re trying our best but the problem is the council has got its blinkers on. In three or four years’ time, this will be a disaster town.”

Cherwell District Council has continuously said it cannot afford to offer what the traders are after.

In January, councillor George Reynolds, the council’s deputy leader, said: “While we do recognise the desire to offer free parking, the cost would have to be met through additional funds or at a cost to tax payers, and neither option is financially viable.”

He added the council – which raised £2,100,00 from parking revenue in 2012 – is continuing to monitor the situation.