A national car parking company has given Banbury town centre workers a special dispensation after a number complained about daily rate hikes at Marlborough Road car park.
Workers at Achille hair and beauty salon in the High Street contacted the Banbury Guardian to complain that parking charge rises, introduced last Monday, were going to be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of the town centre.
NCP had altered rates so that anyone staying longer than five hours would have to pay a £7.30 charge for up to 24 hours.
Achille salons’ area manager Rachel Mates said: “All our staff, and the dentists’ and at the wine shop we’ve all been feeling very aggrieved and we stopped parking there. Instead we were using the Cherwell car park in Calthorpe Street.”
“Those kind of charges might be expected in Oxford where you might be going to the theatre, but Banbury’s not like that. You wouldn’t want to park in this car park at night as it has no lights or CCTV. It felt as though people working in the town are being penalised.
“We’re battling for survival against the out-of-town retail parks as it is.”
However, NCP’s head of operations, Brian Devonshire, said the price changes had been introduced to encourage more shoppers to the town centre by dropping the short-stay charges.
“Honestly, we never intended to put people off; we wanted to get more custom from short stay parking by reducing those charges. The average shopping trip is just over two hours and these were the people we wanted to encourage,” he said.
“We looked at long stay take-up and it was minimal but to make sure they were catered for we put in a £15 weekly ticket.
“However if local businesses want to keep to the old price I’m very happy to introduce an ‘early bird’ rate of £3.60 (the old rate) for people buying their ticket before 9.30am and they can have 12 hours for £3.60.”
Mr Devonshire said the machines would have to be updated but the new early bird fee would be available as soon as possible.
As news got out about the early bird tickets, Ms Mates said: “I’m so chuffed that actually standing up and having an opinion on issues that not only affect me but businesses, staff and clients alike really works!”
The price changes are now £1.30 for one hour, £2.30 for one to two hours £3.30 for two to three hours. Prices then rise by £1 an hour up to five hours, then £7.30 for five to 24 hours and £15 for a weekly ticket.
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