|Last week, over 38,000 Oxford residents turned out to elect 24 councillors onto the City Council, which is responsible for delivering a variety of services for the area. Now, the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, which reviews and challenges many of the Council’s decisions and policies, wants to hear from you.
Each year, the Scrutiny Committee forms an annual work plan of issues affecting the city and its residents, and the Committee is welcoming public input into the longlist of items. Issues already featured on the longlist include Air Quality, the impact of the Westgate Shopping Centre and Tourism Management.
The Committee’s role is to prioritise key issues of public interest for review. It carries out a ‘check and balance’ and ‘critical friend’ function to the City Executive Board, which makes the majority of the Council’s key decisions. It can also look at issues outside of the Council’s remit, but it has no powers to investigate external organisations.
The scrutiny function operates to provide public assurance that the Board is carrying out its business effectively, providing value for money and taking the best decisions it can to improve public services and the quality of life for residents. To provide this assurance, the Committee carries out research, reviews and hears from the public, making recommendations for service improvement where necessary.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Chair of the Scrutiny Committee for 2017/18, said: “Suggesting items for the scrutiny work plan is a great way to influence the direction of the Council, both in terms of identifying issues for review and improvement, and providing valuable feedback about the delivery of council services.”
The Committee meets in public at least 10 times each year and is comprised of 12 cross-party councillors who reflect the political make-up of the Council. The membership of the Committee will be formally agreed at a meeting of Full Council on 15 May 2018.
Members of the public can submit an issue for consideration online here. As a guide, issues should be of significant public interest, under the influence of the City Council, and not related to a personal grievance. The long-list of items will be reviewed before publication and considered by the Scrutiny Committee at a public meeting on 5 June 2018.
The County Council tells us that…
We are very proactive in our enforcement of disabled parking bays in Oxford. In 2017 we issued 2,267 Penalty Charge notices for drivers misusing these bays.
Roz was so impressed, she queried the figures to see if this was for the whole county or just Oxford City. It was for Oxford City only.
- Saturday 12 May, MOSAIC – Indonesian Cultural Exhibition, Bonn Square, 11 am to 6 pm. Event with lots of hands on experience for visitors related to Indonesia’s diverse and rich culture, such as batik making, wayang making, dance workshops and gamelan. There will also be Indonesian dance, food and more.
- Sunday 13 May, Town & Gown, city centre, 10 am to 12 pm. Annual 10 km charity road race around the city centre. The race village will be located at University Parks.
- Sunday 13 May, British Heart Foundation London to Oxford Trek, finishing at Oxpens Rec. 100 km trek, where walkers raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
- Wednesday 16 May, Human Library, Bonn Square, 4 pm to 6 pm. Part of the Think Human Festival with the theme of revolution. Leading academics from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University will act as human ‘books’ which visitors of all ages will be able to ‘loan’ and engage with, around an aspect of revolution.
- Friday 18 and Saturday 19 May, Stand for Freedom, Bonn Square, 3 pm to 9 pm (Friday) and 9 am to 3 pm (Saturday). Annual event to raise awareness of Modern Day Slavery.
- Sunday 20 May, Bike Oxford, route across Oxfordshire and the city, 7.30 am to 5 pm. A day of marked cycle rides of 25, 50 and 80 miles starting and finishing at Oxford University Rugby Club on Iffley Road.
- Monday 21 May, Sri Chinmoy Races, Cutteslowe Park, 7 pm to 7.30 pm. Annual three mile running race around Peace Mile at Cutteslowe Park.
- Wednesday 23 May, Wolvercote WW1 Aerodrome Memorial Unveiling, Port Meadow, 2 pm to 2.30 pm. Outdoor ceremony to unveil a new memorial to 17 airmen killed in flying training accidents there during World War One. A rebuilt biplane from the time will be present.
- Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May, Common People Festival 2018, South Park, 10 am to 11 pm. It’s the third year of Common People in Oxford – a two-day festival created for everyone who wants to listen to music, have fun, eat great food, drink great drinks and play.
- Saturday 26 May, Oxford Singers Fundraising Event, Bonn Square, 11 am to 4 pm. The Oxford Singers are raising money for the charity Rainbow Trust with their acappella singing.
- Monday 28 May, Walk the Thames 2018 Fundraising Event, Bonn Square, 9 am to 4.30 pm. Over the course of six days, seven firefighters from Burford Fire Station, Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue service will be walking the length of the Thames Path for 186 miles.
We have just been advised by County that..
For awareness, the forecast has been updated this morning for heavy rain overnight so tonight’s closure/works is being cancelled.
Following noise complaints last year, one resident has been informed by the City Council:
With regards to monitoring points, we aim to take more measurementsfrom locations that appeared to be particularly affected by low frequency noise from the festival last year which included the Headington area. In terms of the equipment, if I or one of my colleagues could visit you on the Friday evening prior to the start of the festival to install the equipment that would be much appreciated. It will take no more than 15mins or so at the most to set it up and it does not require any interaction at all during the festival as it will be pre-set to log the data we require. We would aim to pick the equipment up on Sunday evening if that is convenient?
Please let us know if you experienced a volume of noise you considered unacceptably high last year and would like monitoring equipment too, and we shall contact the appropriate officer.
Signs have gone up to say that London Road closed for 3 nights 20:00 – 05:00 starting 9/5/18 between Headington traffic lights and the petrol station. Here is our latest information from the County’s Access to Headington team.
Stephen Road access will be maintained but from the Windmill Road direction only.
Windmill Road/London Road will be gated and manned for local access.
Access to the petrol garage will be maintained until 11pm.
Blue lighters aware inc. SCAS and JR – signed via bypass
Eastbound London Road: Diverted via Headley Way
Westbound London Road: Diverted via bypass
Lime Walk: Access via Old Road (or other local road)
New High Street: We’ve cancelled the one way so will be accessed from Bateman Street
Osler Road: Access via St Andrew’s Road
Kennet Road: Access via London Road as normal (through gated closure)
Stephen Road: Access via London Road as normal (through gated closure)
Following up enquiries and complaints from residents, the Lib Dem opposition group asked the following questions in Full Council and we include the responses from the City Executive Board member responsible.
Can the Board Member advise how many dockless bikes are now standing on the streets of Oxford, and whether any more are to be licensed?
There is no upper limit in the Oxford Code of Conduct. Is one being introduced?
Local authorities have no powers to license schemes, or to set enforceable upper limitsthrough such schemes. However all the operators in Oxford have adhered to the voluntary Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct is under constant review, including whether an upper limit should be introduced. As the schemes expand their geographic coverage, more bikes will be required, but will be spread over a much larger area. Each time one of the three firms currently operating in Oxford has wanted to increase the number of bikes in their scheme they have consulted with the City Council as part of the ongoing dialogue between the companies, the City Council and the County Council.
Brilliantly coloured dockless bikes are becoming an eyesore on the streets of Oxford. What progress is being made in finding cycling stations where they can be stored?
The point of dockless bikes is that that they do not have docking stations. The companies use incentives within their apps to encourage their customers to leave bikes parked appropriately. Several private landowners have agreements with the operators for bikes to be placed on their land.
Dockless bikes are accessed by an app which requires credit card details. They are equipped with satnavs which permanently record bike trips. How is this information used? How is it monetised? Are people aware of how their information can be used e.g. passed on to marketing companies?
Data collected by private companies is subject to appropriate laws. The City Council is not privy to the contractual relationship between the companies running these schemes and their customers, in the same way that it is not privy to the contractual relationship between Oxford’s bus operators and their customers.
Many residents are asking us questions about dockless bikes and objecting to seeing these ‘dumped’ in hedges, on open green space and in residential roads. Here is some information that may help.
Who has responsibility for removing them?
The bike companies – click on the code of conduct agreed by the bike companies and the Council to learn more.
Do companies patrol the area of Old Road?
I don’t believe any patrols take place outside of the city centre. Each bike has a GPS tracker and can be identified in that way, everyday each company go and collect the bikes picked up on their computer systems.
If so, how regularly and what is the time frame for collection?
The majority of bikes are moved within 24 hours, this can take longer if bikes are taken outside of the city boundary.
Should residents of Highfield be moving bikes to Old Road for collection, or leave them in our road?
Leave bikes anywhere (as long as not causing a nuisance) and the companies will find them via the GPS.
Do Direct Services have any other advice for residents?
There are contact details for each company on our website, I would encourage issues to be reported, either direct to the companies, or to City Highways at Highways@oxford.gov.uk.
Ruth, Altaf and Roz are pictured above after the votes were counted for Headington Ward last night, we’re not sure who was the most exhausted after Election Day!
Altaf was re-elected with a huge majority, and later in the evening Roz learned that she had won a seat from Labour in Quarry and Risinghurst. (photo below courtesy of the Oxford Mail). This means Roz is now both the County Councillor for Headington and Quarry, and the City Councillor for Quarry and Risinghurst.
There was another very encouraging result for the Lib Dems in Headington Hill and Northway where our new candidate Guy Garden beat off the Conservatives to gain a creditable second place.
Altaf says, “I am deeply grateful to the people of Headington for their support and I will do my best to represent them and take action on their concerns.”
Please click on the link to see the results of the local elections held yesterday. The Green Party retained only two seats of the four they had previously held so Labour’s majority has increased by one overall.
Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses after a woman was assaulted in Oxford. The incident happened on Headington Hill footpath near the bridge at 1am today (24/4).
The victim, a 25-year-old woman, was approached by a man who assaulted her.
The victim sustained facial injuries including a broken nose and was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital for treatment.
The offender is described as black, in his mid-twenties and slim. He was wearing a grey tracksuit.
Investigating officer PC Christopher Tack, based at St Aldates Police Station, said: “This was an unprovoked assault which resulted in the victim requiring medical treatment.
“I would like to appeal to anyone who may have witnessed this assault or has any information to contact Thames Valley Police non-emergency telephone number, on 101, quoting reference 43180122135. Alternatively they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
The press release can be found here: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/news/witness-appeals/appeal-after-woman-was-assaulted-oxford/