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Gridlock revives fees plea
FRESH calls have been made for a council to abandon parking fees after Bicester’s only free car park was gridlocked on Saturday.
Motorists were trapped for up to an hour in the new 526-space multi-storey car park in Bicester town centre’s £70m redevelopment.
A faulty detector on traffic lights, which allow traffic to exit the car park, has been blamed as the cause of the car chaos.
The problem was compounded as vehicles were still being allowed into the packed car park.
Eventually, after numerous calls to the police, officers directed traffic from 12.12pm until about 1pm to clear the backlog. But the problems have re-ignited calls to Cherwell District Council to offer two hours’ free parking in its own car parks – to bring them in line with the Sainsbury’s multi-storey car park.
Resident John Broad said: “This shows the opportunities offered by Sainsbury’s – with its free parking – has increased footfall in Bicester.
“Because Cherwell still charges, the consequence is the only free car park is jammed. Cherwell council needs to get its act together.”
One motorist, who did not want to be named but was stuck in Saturday’s jam for an hour, described it as “bedlam”.
The motorist said: “It was just bad management. The traffic lights are only green for long enough to let three or four cars out – so, of course, everything backs up.
“Cherwell council needs to make their car parks free. If they did that, it would take the pressure off the Sainsbury’s car park.”
Local councillor Les Sibley said: “We knew free parking would be key to the success of the redevelopment of Bicester town centre, so I’m delighted people have taken note and are coming back into the town to shop – but I would urge the district council to offer free parking now, so everyone can prosper.”
A Cherwell spokesman said: “We continue to monitor use of the car parks and no changes are proposed at this time.”
Sainsbury’s said its car park would be monitored – but attendants could only manage traffic inside the car park. They were not allowed to direct traffic on the public highway.
A spokesman said: “The county council is aware that the traffic lights need an extra detector, so that traffic moves more quickly. We are having ongoing discussions with the county council about the traffic lights and adding further detectors.”
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