Monday, 10 August 2020
BUSINESSES and visitors in Henley could soon benefit from a potential change to parking arrangements in South Oxfordshire.
At its meeting next Thursday the district council’s cabinet will look at range of options being put forward by officers as part of a review into the district’s parking policy.
One of the changes being considered is to introduce a free first hour of parking to bring Henley into line with other towns in the district.
The council runs the car parks in King’s Road, Greys Road and Southfields, off Goodall Close.
As things stand, the charging period in Henley begins at 10am, instead of 9am, which is the case elsewhere in the district.
This means Henley car park users benefit from a free hour of parking, but only if they park before 9am. Starting the charging period at 9am and introducing a free first hour of parking would mean Henley car park users would be able to use their free hour at any time of the day.
The district council is keen for businesses, particularly local shops and cafes, to benefit more widely from the scheme. The option of taking an hour’s free parking at any time during the day in Henley, rather than just in the morning, could achieve this, it says.
The move could also help to reduce traffic during the morning rush hour. People who currently drive into town to shop during the free hour will instead be able to do this later in the day when there’s less traffic around, potentially easing congestion at busier times in the Air Quality Management Area.
If approved by cabinet, the proposals will be taken forward to a public consultation this autumn when people will be able to have their say on all the potential changes to South Oxfordshire’s parking policy.
Councillor David Rouane, the district council’s cabinet member for housing and environment, said: “Providing an hour’s free parking is a good thing to do if it helps to bring people to the local area, giving a potential boost to local shops and cafes. However, if this offer is only available for an hour at the start of the day then a lot of people miss out, so I’m pleased that we are responding to concerns from retailers in Henley about how the current scheme operates.
“While it is vital that we support town centre businesses we also need to reduce car use as part of our efforts to address the climate emergency and to encourage active means of travel. We are therefore also encouraging those living in the local area to consider walking or cycling into town more often, rather than driving. Doing so is good for your physical and mental health, as well as for air quality around the town.”
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