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Parking charges and rents going up
BILLS: Oxford City Council tenant Mark Cooper with partner Tansy Nuttall and children Poppy, five, left, and Summer, three, in Windrush Tower
PARKING fees and council house rents will be hiked up as part of the next city council budget.
The authority will put up parking fees by as much as nine per cent and rents by an average of 5.42 per cent.
The biggest rise in parking prices will be at Union Street car park, where fees will rise nine per cent, from £1.10 to £1.20 an hour.
At Worcester Street car park, parking for two hours during the week will rise from £7.30 to £7.50 – an increase of 2.74 per cent. n continued from page 1 The rent rise will mean someone renting a two-bedroom flat will see their rent go up by £4.72, from £92.23 to £96.95.
The hikes are part of a rise in the bill to the city taxpayer for charges of £2.35m.
At the same time, the council will make £5.4m of savings by 2018, with £300,000 alone being saved from the closure of Temple Cowley PoolS.
The rising charges have sparked concerns, particularly among traders in the city, who say higher parking charges will put off customers.
Graham Jones, of traders’ group ROX (Rescue Oxford), said : “I’m pretty alarmed. We’re just about getting through the recession. While the council might have its own budgetary problems, we really do need an injection of good news into the city centre.”
He said the parking fee hike would mean more bad news for shopkeepers when coupled with the disruption from redevelopment of the Westgate Centre.
He said: “What we want is a positive message from the city council for people to come to Oxford and spend money.”
Mark Cooper, 37, who lives in a council flat in Windrush Tower, Blackbird Leys, said: “It is never good news to find out our rent is going up.
“If it works out at about £22 a month, it’s going to affect everyone. We’re going to have to tighten up the belt.”
He added: “It could cause problems, especially with elderly people who are budgeting £20 a week. They could find themselves not having heating for a few nights.”
The council said diminishing grants from Whitehall were to blame.
By 2015-16, the council’s support from the Government will have fallen from £19m to £10m.
Labour city executive member for finance Ed Turner said: “In the years between when this wonderful Government was elected and the time when they have the ability to set the rates taken away from them, we will have seen our support cut by 47 per cent.
“At the same time, we are facing rising pressures on services and interests rates are low. But what I hope people will also see is that we are investing in the city.”
He said no compulsory redundancies would be made.
And the budget is not all bad news for Oxford, with more than £4.6m of investment planned.
The council will spend £1.5m on a surface water flood alleviation system in Northway, in a bid to prevent a repeat of previous widespread flooding in the area.
The investment, which will also benefit from some Environment Agency funding to take it to its £2m total, has been welcomed by residents.
Jane Cox, chairwoman of the Northway Residents’ Association, welcomed the investment but said she hoped the money would be spent wisely.
She said: “Before they start chucking money about, they need to start planning.”
The council will also spend £75,000 setting up a planning design and review panel in the wake of the Castle Mill student flats problems, and £100,000 introducing food waste collections to the city’s 15,000 flats.
Mum-of-five Kimberley Page, 29, lives in a flat in Chillingworth Crescent, Wood Farm.
She said: “I am split-minded. I am really up for recycling but some flats in other areas have trouble maintaining the recycling bins.
“In a communal area you cannot always see who chucked what where, and if there’s contamination in the bin, the council does not take it away.
“But it’s good to teach kids about recycling – all mine enjoy taking part – and we have got to think of the future of the world.”
Katie Herring, 26, who lives in a flat in Kenilworth Avenue, off Cowley Road, said: “I think it’s a great idea. It would put us in line with the other properties.
“More recycling is always good and it would be nice to know, especially without a garden, that our food is being recycled properly and going to good use.”
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