Friday, 04 December 2020

Call for hour’s free parking to apply at any time during day

BUSINESSES in Henley are suffering because of a lack of free parking in Henley, according to a resident.

BUSINESSES in Henley are suffering because of a lack of free parking in Henley, according to a resident.

Ian Forster, of Elizabeth Road, believes parking charges are putting people off coming into town.

Henley is the only town in South Oxfordshire to have no free parking provided by the district council at any time.

Mr Forster obtained figures from the council that show the car parks in Didcot, Thame, Goring and Wallingford all offer one hour’s free parking every day at any time.

But in Henley the free hour is only between 9am and 10am and after that it costs 50p to park for an hour in the King’s Road and Greys Road car parks.

There is also a maximum stay of three hours in Henley’s car parks compared with 23 hours in all but one of the other towns.

Mr Forster, a retired mechanical engineer designer, claimed the figures were an “eye-opener”. He said: “The problem is they can fill the car park in Henley so it’s a licence to print money.

“I think we should have the same as the other towns in South Oxfordshire.”

He said the charges put him off from going into the town centre even to do his banking. “I don’t go into Henley mainly because of parking,” he said. “You can argue the car parks are always full but they are probably full of people who go for three hours.

“I think there’s a link between the parking and the shops closing and it’s unfair. I’ve been to Thame and saw all the free parking in the town centre and thought ‘why is Henley so restricted?’”

Town centre manager Peter McConnell said he didn’t believe there was a link between parking charges and shops closing. He said there was free parking provision in Marlow but there was still a number of businesses closing.

“Shop closures are to do with the general economic situation in the country rather than just free parking,” he said.

“If there was free parking I’m sure it would help but you only have to look at the car parks in Greys Road and King’s Road to realise they are virtually full most of the time. People are coming to the town, it’s what they are purchasing that is an issue.”

Councillor Judith Nimmo Smith, cabinet member for economic development, said: “Saying ‘there’s no free parking in Henley’ is quite clearly not correct.

“We do have periods where we don’t charge in Henley, it’s just expressed in a different way.

“The car parks in Didcot, Thame and Wallingford start charging from 9am but we don’t charge in Henley until 10am.

“All that’s happened is we haven’t said you can have a free hour at any point in the day.” She pointed out that shoppers could also enjoy three hours of free parking in Henley between 3pm and 6pm on a Saturday.

Cllr Nimmo Smith said the car parks were free before 10am to encourage use of the car parks when they were traditionally less busy.

She said: “It’s a helpful time for parents taking their children to school as they can drop off the kids and then do their shopping.

“Some shops and most coffee shops are now open at 8am.”

A district council spokesman said: “The free hour was introduced in the mid-Nineties to encourage users into car parks that had low usage.

“When it was first considered, the King’s Road and Greys Road cars parks in Henley were already well used, apart from before 10am.

“The car parks in Didcot, Goring, Thame and Wallingford had the free hour introduced to increase usage. Due to Henley town centre car parks still being well used today, we believe there is no need to make a change.” Telephone: (01491) 419419 Email:

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