Vale of White Horse gets free parking despite costs

Free short-stay parking in three Oxfordshire market towns has been given the go ahead against the advice of a council's chief finance officer.

The Conservative-led Vale of White Horse District Council scrapped fees in Abingdon, Wantage and Faringdon.

A government grant will fund a £250,000 shortfall from the lack of fees.

Council leader Matthew Barber said: "It's not entirely a financial decision - it's an investment to reinvigorate our towns."

The Conservatives had promised the measure during their election campaign in May, saying it would encourage residents and tourists to shop in the towns.

The funding comes from central government's New Homes Bonus aimed at areas which have seen a growth in new housing in recent years.

The Liberal Democrat opposition leader, Richard Webber called the decision "highly imprudent" and said other services such as playgrounds and youth facilities elsewhere would lose out on funding as a result.

He said: "We are all anxious about the state of market towns. We just think that money could be better spent and achieve better results.

"It was an election pledge and a vote winner but ultimately an irresponsible one."

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