Banbury businesses already 'on their knees' are counting the cost of parking fines - and now their day parking is to be scrapped

Banbury businesses say they have been left counting the cost of fines for parking to load and unload their vehicles – and now their day parking is to be discontinued.

By Roseanne Edwards
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 11:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 12:36 pm
Barry Whitehouse, proprietor of The Artery, (left) with other traders of the Old Town area of Banbury
Barry Whitehouse, proprietor of The Artery, (left) with other traders of the Old Town area of Banbury

The independent traders of the old town area of Banbury have had to soak up multiple parking fines during the allotted time vehicles are legally permitted to use the pedestrianised streets for unloading and accessing their shops.

They say that since Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) has taken over from Thames Valley Police in monitoring the street parking, numerous changes appear to have been made to the legislation without consultation or notifying the businesses affected.

They say from what they understand, not only is vehicular access restricted to before 10am and after 4:30pm, but now non-commercial vehicles are only allowed five minutes outside their business premises. Commercial vehicles are not allowed to be left unattended and are only permitted around 10 – 15 minutes to unload.

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Barry Whitehouse chairman of Banbury Old Town Association said: “Most small business owners do not have the luxury of owning commercial vehicles and frequently use their own cars to visit their premises or take and unload items to and from them.

"Often, five minutes isn’t enough time to do much, especially as we are already restricted as to when we can actually access our own shop frontages. Businesses are on their knees and I am concerned that yet more restrictions could drive businesses away.”

“We cannot obey changes in any rules if we are not made aware of them in the first place. We agree that parking illegally during the pedestrianised times needs to be enforced but further restricting access to business owners and then fining them for not being made aware of changes, is a really low blow,” he said.

A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said: “There were no changes in parking restrictions when OCC took over the role of parking enforcement from Thames Valley Police in November 2021.

"The only change was in who was carrying out the enforcement of the rules which were already in place. A number of roads in the centre of Banbury form part of a pedestrianised area, with loading permitted a certain times of the day to facilitate goods being delivered to local businesses.

"Officers carrying out enforcement will allow an observation period before issuing a penalty charge notice (PCN) to check that loading activities are taking place, and a right to appeal exists for motorists who feel a PCN has been issued unfairly.

“Our policies for enforcement are robust, having been in place for number of years but we continue to work with business groups in the area and remain open to feedback where users feel our enforcement policies need to be reviewed.”

In addition to the on-street parking issue the traders say a forthcoming change to Bolton Road car park, which is to become short stay, will also impact hundreds of business owners who park there while at work. They find Bolton Road the most easily accessible car park as it is closer for them to access their premises during the time the pedestrianisation is in force each day.

A spokesperson for Cherwell District Council said: “It is Cherwell District Council’s intention to change Bolton Road car park to short stay with the aim of making the town centre more accessible to shoppers and increasing footfall to local businesses.

"Although this ambition has been approved in principle by councillors as part of the Car Parking Action Plan, works would not begin until completion of a new long stay car park nearby at Cherwell Drive, which would serve people working in the town centre.

"The council envisages conducting a further public consultation before plans to change Bolton Road car park to short stay are finalised.”