WITH today’s news that council parking surpluses have soared, you have to wonder whether Oxford City Council’s strategy of keeping charges high to deter motorists from driving into the centre is working.

Its profits have risen 15 per cent in two years, thanks to charges like £22.30 Sunday to Friday for the Westgate Centre, bringing £4.56m into council coffers.

As cash-strapped drivers car share or take public transport, congestion has fallen. But the council has refused to cut charges despite concerns they are hitting the city’s economy, instead hoping that drivers will use park-and-rides.

These, however, are no longer such a cheap option now all of the city’s five park-and-rides charge for parking, with drivers facing about £4-a-day costs to leave their car and get the bus.

For many – especially those who live outside the county, so often the more experienced and skilled workers – these add to reasons to shun working in Oxford.

Yet some will feel they have no choice but to use the car parks, which must go some way to explaining the rise in surpluses. If demand is strong for parking, the council should reconsider some charges.

Although lower short-term fees could lead to an unacceptable rise in traffic throughout the day, a cut in all-day charges could provide a further boost to the city economy.