‘PARKING mayhem’ in towns around Oxfordshire could soon come to an end, as traffic wardens may be rolled out across the county.

Towns including Abingdon, Didcot, Banbury, Bicester and Wallingford have been plagued by cars dumped in awkward places for years.

This is because three district councils within Oxfordshire – Cherwell, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse – do not have any traffic wardens to enforce the rules.

They are among just 12 councils in England where there is no one to lay down the law of proper parking etiquette.

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But now Oxfordshire County Council plans to write to the Government with proposals for a Civil Parking Enforcement scheme.

As the council’s cabinet, its most senior councillors, agreed to apply for the parking scheme at its meeting on Tuesday, there was widespread agreement that the situation had to change.

Mark Gray, the cabinet member for local communities, said: “We haven’t had wardens for probably ten years in the south of the county and as a result nobody takes any notice at all of the double yellow lines.

“I’m delighted to see this – our towns are choking.”

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Bad parking caught on camera at Wantage Health Centre last year

Under the scheme the council has applied for, new traffic wardens would be able to fine people for disobeying waiting and loading restrictions, as well as for parking on dropped kerbs or double yellow lines.

The new parking powers would allow wardens to enforce the rules on the sides of streets, as well as in ‘off-street’ car parks.

This is the same power which covers Oxford and West Oxfordshire, where parking enforcement already exists.

A council report said as many as 168 new pay and display parking spaces may need to be set up in Banbury, Bicester, Abingdon and Wallingford to help the scheme break even in its first five years.

The report did not propose the same for either Didcot or Wantage.

And to get it off the ground, Oxfordshire County Council will need to pay £250,000 to put up new ‘signs and lines’, while Cherwell, Vale and South Oxfordshire district councils will need to pay £60,000 each, totalling £430,000.

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Cabinet member for the environment, Yvonne Constance, said the new parking rules would work alongside other measures to control traffic and change people’s travels habits after Covid, including Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and resident-only parking.

Ms Constance said: “I see this as part of a very wide county council strategy to manage traffic better. This is not an item on its own.”

She added the council had to take responsibility for parking: “We cannot expect the police to do it, and the result in our towns in parking mayhem.”

Parking in towns across Oxfordshire has been a source of huge frustration for residents for many years.

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The three Oxfordshire districts are among some of the only places in England where there is no parking enforcement. Picture: OCC

Last year, readers of this paper sent in their photos giving examples of bad parking, which included shoppers abandoning their vehicles on a pedestrian path outside Aldi in Faringdon, and a car squatting in a space reserved for motorbikes in Didcot’s Orchard centre.

Read again about some of the corkers they caught on camera here

The new parking scheme could bring to an end a stalemate over funding for traffic wardens going back many years.

Vale and South Oxfordshire district councils approached the county to say they were willing to help fund the scheme, and county council staff thought that Cherwell should also be included in the scheme, as an agreement it currently has with police community support officers to enforce parking is coming to an end.

The county council’s leader Ian Hudspeth said: “This has been something that I first proposed back in 2008 when I was cabinet member for transport – a county-wide parking system.

“It was all about the fact that the districts weren’t prepared to stump up the cost. That’s the bottom line of it. That’s the reason we haven’t had it since I put it forward in 2008.”

On a map of England accompanying the proposals for new parking enforcement, Cherwell, the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire are highlighted as an ‘island’ where there are no wardens, among a sea of areas where there are.

Other areas where there are no wardens include rural Cambridgeshire outside of Cambridge, North Warwickshire, the borough of Halton near Liverpool, Gosport in Hampshire, and parts of Sussex.

Oxfordshire County Council will now need the approval of Cherwell, Vale and South district councils before writing to the Government to ask for permission.

This article has been updated to add explanation that Oxfordshire's district councils need to approve the plans 19/10/20