DRIVERS are routinely flouting the law by parking in a Henley town centre loading bay.
Mayor Lorraine Hillier was singled out last week after parking in the Bell Street bay for a matter of minutes.
She was buying urgent supplies from Sainsbury?s for her Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street.
But photogographs of her Nissan Rasheen parked in the bay surfaced on Facebook after she was photographed by resident Rob Strike. She was then the target of abuse on the social media site. Many users claimed the spaces were often used by drivers with no intention of loading or unloading goods.
The Henley Standard decided to see for itself and spent an hour observing the area during one lunchtime this week.
During that period numerous private vehicles stopped in the bay with the drivers running personal errands by visiting shops nearby, including Sainsbury?s and Boots. Almost as soon as a space became available another vehicle pulled in.
No sooner had our reporter arrived when a Mini Countryman pulled up and the woman driver got out and spent a couple of minutes in Boots before going next door to the supermarket.
A Land Rover Defender then pulled up and a male driver got out and headed in the direction of Hart Street.
He returned five minutes later without loading or unloading anything from his vehicle. Before he left another Land Rover pulled in and the woman driver got out to buy a coffee from Starbucks before returning to her vehicle after about five minutes and leaving.
Another Mini pulled in and the driver visited Sainsbury?s.
This was followed by a black Lexus whose driver stayed in the vehicle for almost 10 minutes before getting out and visiting Chilton Watson Opticians.
By the time she returned her car had been parked in the bay for almost 20 minutes. During this time a silver Toyota Rav 4 parked up and the woman driver visited Sainsbury?s for about seven minutes.
When the Lexus left the bay an Audi took its place and the woman driver visited the supermarket.
Oxfordshire County Council?s parking policy on loading bays says: ?In town centres and business areas consideration will be given to the provision of specific bays reserved for vehicles loading/unloading in connection with business use at nearby premises.
Each individual site will be considered on its merits.? Last year there was a bid to introduce parking wardens in Henley to tackle illegal parking.
The council has said it will look into introducing civil parking enforcement across the county as long as all the district and town councils agree to it but at least one of these is not willing.
Enforcement is currently the responsibility of the police but Henley Town Council believes decriminalising it would free up officers? time.