Workers who park their vans in Oxford city centre have been hit with a new charge which will cost them hundreds of pounds a year. Until April any private contractors working in the city were able park for free if they applied for a permit. However, under the new rules, they must now apply for a £16-a-week permit for each of their vans.
Many who are affected by the new parking rules describe it as a tax on contractors by a council whose new leader said he wanted to help small business. Contractors from all trades are disappointed with the new charge and say it could threaten the development of Oxford city centre in the long term.
Phil West, of DF Williams Cleaning Services Ltd, has worked in the city centre since 1978, and said: “I am waiting to be prosecuted then I will put it in the hands of lawyers. No one has told us anything. There are no signs up or anything. This is a stealth tax which could see me paying a lot of money each year just to do my job. I need my van to be near me while I am working, I can’t carry all of the equipment from the car park, and I have had equipment stolen in the past and had to claim on my commercial van insurance.”
The council claim they have been informing van owners of the change for the six months leading up to the change. All traders applying for a free permit were informed about the new charge and letters were sent out explaining the new rules to around 1,000 contractors known to have applied for parking permission in the last few years. To ensure a smooth transition the council are now allowing a two-week grace period for any traders not displaying a valid permit before handing out fines.