A motion calling for a trial of free parking in Banbury and Bicester was turned down at a Cherwell District Council meeting last night (Monday).
Sean Woodcock, district councillor and leader of the Labour Party in Banbury, proposed the motion because of falling income from district council-owned car parks and from rental income in particular at Castle Quay Shopping Centre.
In full the motion said: “This Council also notes the feedback from businesses and the general public on the impact that parking charges has on visitor footfall into our town centres.
“So noted, this council asks the Executive to implement a month-long suspension of parking charges in its car parks from 9.30am on Thursdays in February 2016 excepting ultra short stay car parks and drop-off points.
“This temporary suspension of charges should be accompanied by a detailed study on the effect that it does, or does not, have on visitor numbers to our town centres. In doing so this Council believes it will restore public confidence in its commitment to prosperous town centres.”
But after the council rejected the proposal, Mr Woodcock said: “I am disappointed that the other councillors decided to reject what was a constructive motion to address an issue that the public care about.
“Unfortunately, I think the Tory whip was out and so even councillors who may have otherwise been sympathetic, voted down the motion just because it was proposed by Labour.
“It is particularly disappointing that Les Sibley, the independent councillor, refused to support it, given that he has previously given the impression that he wants free parking in Bicester.”