Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are encouraging people who plan to shop or support hospitality businesses in the run-up to Christmas to do so safely and avoid the busiest times.
The two councils are providing free parking at Oxford’s five park-and-ride sites from Saturday 5 December through to Sunday 27 December, to support businesses and help reduce car congestion on approaches to the city centre and at the Westgate car park. The councils are also asking people who plan to use the service to travel outside peak times if they can.
Oxfordshire will be in Tier 2 (High Alert) from 2 December. The government has updated its safe travel advice, including for those walking, cycling, and travelling in vehicles or on public transport. You can read the latest advice on the government's safer travel guidance web page.
Park-and-ride sites are also a good stopping off place to cycle or walk to Oxford. Visitors can hop on a bus and head into the city centre, or visit Summertown, Jericho, Headington, Cowley Road or other nearby shops and hospitality venues.
The free parking scheme will operate from Saturday 5 December to Sunday 27 December inclusive, allowing residents who are keen to support city centre and local centre shops, bars and restaurants, service and leisure businesses in the crucial trading period before Christmas, to do so.
Oxford Bus Company - who operate services from the five park-and-ride sites - are supporting the initiative by running a '£4.80 per car maximum charge’ promotion, which will mean that any more than two adults in the same car will get their bus journey for free. Kids will go for free too.
By making parking free all week at all five sites, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council also aim to reduce peak-time congestion on routes into the city and around city-centre car parks.
Visitors will be able to take advantage of the offer at Pear Tree, Redbridge, Seacourt, Thornhill and Oxford Parkway park-and-rides.
A similar scheme was in place in August when the City and County made parking at Oxford’s five park-and-rides free.
Further support for Oxford businesses
The free park-and-ride parking scheme is the latest in a series of City and County Council initiatives to help Oxford’s businesses operate safely through the coronavirus crisis.
The City Council, supported by the County Council, has supported cafes, restaurants and bars across the city by providing outdoor seating areas in Broad Street, Cornmarket Street, Dawson Street High Street, Observatory Street and St Michael’s Street to continue serving customers whilst adhering to Covid Secure guidelines.
Cllr Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford said: “With Oxford now entering Tier 2 restrictions, we are encouraging people who plan to shop here or support our hospitality businesses to think carefully about the best times to do so. Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, working together, have made parking at our five park-and-ride sites free from 5 to 27 December inclusive to help people to do that.
“We know people are determined to get behind our local businesses at this incredibly difficult time, and this initiative is a way they can get into the city centre easily, safely, and sustainably by bus or by walking or cycling. Free park-and-ride parking will also help to unblock Oxford’s congested roads at what are proving to be the busiest times.”
Cllr Liam Walker, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways Delivery and Operations said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to work closely with Oxford City Council to reintroduce free parking at our park-and-ride sites. Having this in place proved really popular in August to support the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, and it makes sense for us to do the same now to support jobs and local businesses across Oxford during a busy period ahead of Christmas.
“We are keen to play our part in helping to reduce congestion in the city centre during peak times and we have recently been working closely with the Westgate Centre to help achieve this and we will be putting measures in place which will now be complemented with free parking at the park-and-ride sites.
“Ultimately we want everyone to be able to travel around safely, enjoy their visiting experience, and reduce the congestion on our roads and this is a great way to help achieve this. We urge all those planning to visit Oxford over the next few weeks to take advantage of this festive gift from both councils.”