Ombudsman rules in favour of the fined

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BLUE badge holders and evening car park users who were fined between April 4 and 13 after changes to parking charges in Bicester are set to get their money back.

Cherwell District Council is to repay around £11,600 to the recipients of Excess Charge Notices (ECN).

In April last year, new fees were introduced including charges for blue badge holders to park in marked disabled bays.

But the charges were reviewed during the summer following complaints from disabled drivers, traders and other members of the public. The changes were overturned in November.

The announcement is made on the back of a report issued by the Local Government Ombudsman which concluded more could have been done to highlight the changes specifically to those users who previously would have had no cause to use the ticket machines.

Council leader, Barry Wood, said: “We are disappointed with the findings of Ombudsman. This authority went over and above the legal requirements to ensure that changes to parking charges were communicated well in advance of implementation.”

He added additional signage was introduced and letters were sent to blue badge holders after a high number of ECNs were issued during the first two weeks of the changes.

He said: “While we do not concur with the findings of the Ombudsman, it is time to move on from this issue. We are therefore taking steps to issue refunds to Blue Badge holders and those who received an ECN after 6pm during April 4 and 13.”

Other ECNs issued will remain in force. Those affected by the ruling will be contacted by the council.