SIR – It is a matter of some concern that a significant number of business units are lying empty or have recently closed down in town centre due to high business rates and a lack of free car parking opportunities leading to a severe reduction in customers.

A survey undertaken by the AA indicates that free parking does bring in the shoppers. Three quarters of motorists questioned agreed that charges determine whether they visit a town centre, a resort or attraction. Shopping outlets on the edge of town are booming because of free car parking on their sites.

Another point I wish to raise because the outcome quite baffles me is that Cherwell District Council (CDC) recently gave up 85 parking spaces with the closure of Franklin’s Yard car park. Yet they approved the construction of a community complex that includes office units, a public library, and a Travelodge motel without any provision for parking – a strange decision for the CDC to make. Why allow extra building for more activities in the town but simultaneously remove access for more parking for the inevitable increase in vehicles?

The council needs to think clearly about the matters raised and to take decisive action now to promote and protect the vitality and viability of our town centre.

Councillor Les Sibley
Bicester West