City Council statement following the autumn statement

We have received this statement from Corporate Communications at the City Council.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has announced that the Oxfordshire councils and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) have reached an agreement with the Government for an additional investment of £215 million over the next five years to build infrastructure, deliver new homes and boost economic productivity across the county.

For the City council the deal offers the potential to increase investment in building homes for affordable and social rent and in infrastructure to support our key development projects. 

The funding will not only frame Oxfordshire’s development, it is set to have a direct effect on the way that planning, finance and other services in each of the county’s six councils will operate.     

The Growth Board, working with the Homes and Communities Agency, the Highways Agency and other partners, will oversee the investment with the aim of cementing a partnership with the Government to deliver properly planned growth and economic development. It will also help Oxfordshire councils achieve the ambition of 100,000 new homes across the county over the period 2011-2031, as identified through the 2014 countywide Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Local Plans.

Oxfordshire’s knowledge-based economy

The Government recognises the importance of Oxfordshire’s knowledge-intensive economy, with its two universities and research institutions. It will work with OxLEP to develop a Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) to back Oxfordshire’s world-class science and innovation assets and grow new sectors. Support will also be provided to high-growth companies, to address skills needs and attract further investment and expansion of the Science Vale and Didcot Enterprise Zones.

The Government will provide Oxfordshire’s councils with £60 million for affordable housing and £150 million for infrastructure. Oxfordshire councils are already committing over £340 million for infrastructure and housing investment over the period. The Government will also provide £5 million in capacity funding to help take the programme forward. This will include a Joint Strategic Spatial Plan to provide a county-wide planning framework to guide growth.

Separate bids to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), to support the development of the Didcot Garden Town, and West Oxfordshire and North of Oxford Garden Villages, are still being considered by the Government with decisions expected in the new year.

Last week the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published its report on the Oxford-Cambridge arc. It advised on long-term funding for new transport infrastructure to harness the region’s economic potential, to benefit local people and boost UK plc post-Brexit.

Next steps

The Growth Board will now work up a delivery plan with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Final agreement on the deal will be subject to agreement by all six councils and OxLEP.

The Government has committed to provide greater freedom and flexibility for Oxfordshire councils to help prevent speculative development. The HCA will help to ensure that land needed for development across the county is brought forward and will work with the councils on longer-term solutions to make sure sites are built out.

Growth Board members will continue to seek further Government funding and private investment alongside local authority funds to support infrastructure and housing development.

Draft Housing and Homelessness Strategy – Lib Dem response

Here is the response made by the Lib Dem Group to the City’s Council consultation




This is a response from the Housing & Homelessness sub-committee on behalf of the Liberal Democrat City Councillors’ Group.

Housing and Homelessness are both huge national problems. Oxford City Council has decided to include both in one strategy, together with the difficult issue of bringing empty properties back into use. This seems a reasonable way of dealing with overlapping problems.

Chapter 3: Oxford’s Housing Challenge


  1. We support a renewal of council house building and oppose the right to buy; we support the introduction of legislation to facilitate this.
  2. We consider it important to support first time buyers and local people trying to up-size their homes. A policy prohibiting the sale of new-build houses and flats to people who will use them as second homes, or whose primary residence is outside Oxford’s environs, would prevent Buy to Let and would stop holiday home owners out-competing  local and first time buyers. Similar policies are being employed in Exmoor National Park and St Ives, Cornwall to good effect.
  3. We should promote community land trust development, where the freehold is owned by the community and people acquire low(er) cost homes and pay just for the bricks and mortar.
  4. We should encourage better occupancy of property – higher rates on empty and significantly under occupied property could be adopted.
  5. Lastly, good public transport and top-notch public parks and gardens are vital if high density housing is to be successful.  


COMMENTS on Affordability:

The Housing and Homelessness Strategy (H&HS) makes frequent mention of affordability. The authors note that in terms of median income, housing in Oxford has become markedly more expensive in recent years. Despite this awareness of the lack of affordability, when affordability is mentioned in the context of new development no definition is given. This lack of clarity allows developers to set their own definition, with the term ‘affordable housing’ having no meaning, and little value.

RECOMMENDATION: For each subtype of property (e.g. an 80 sq.m. 2 bedroom,1 bathroom flat), or for each council tax band, if that is the preferred method, officers should consider providing a definition of what would be an “affordable” price. Given the high utility of linking prices to income, we recommend expressing this in terms of local Gross Disposable Housing Income (GDHI). In Oxford this was approx. £28k in 2015) [1]. Council tax bands may be useful to capture some variation, i.e. ‘very affordable’, ‘affordable’, ‘market value’ but will be a blunter tool for defining affordability.



  1. An urgent need for Increased Funding

The H&HS does not adequately recognize the scale of this problem, which has been escalating throughout the country over the last seven years.

The Guardian (13 October 2017) reports the National Audit Office’s figure for Autumn 2016 of 4,100 rough sleepers, an increase of 134% since 2010. However, the homelessness charity Crisis estimates that the current average number of rough sleepers in the UK is 9,000.

A recent study by Heriot-Watt University showed that, if Government policy did not change, the number of homeless people would reach 575,000 by 2041, up from 236,000 in 2016. The estimate of 575,000 includes 40,000 rough sleepers.

This is a social epidemic.

The Government has responded, but only recently, by announcing the funding of a Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer initiative. This will provide help to the homeless in several of the UK’s cities, one of which is Oxford. Para 5.39 refers to the £790,000 available to the City under this scheme.

The Government has said it is committed to “eliminate(ing) rough sleeping entirely.”

RECOMMENDATION: Oxford City should combine with other cities selected to receive this funding, to press the Government to (a) increase Trailblazer resources and (b) stop the further roll out of universal benefit until it can be better managed, in particular by reducing the 6 week period between application and receipt of this benefit, and by providing emergency payments during those interim weeks and a long ‘claw-back’ period for such payments.

Amyas Morse, Auditor General, says the DWP has failed to evaluate the impact of benefit changes on Homelessness. He says “It is difficult to understand why the Department persisted with its light touch approach.”

  1. Private Rented Sector

The National Audit Office has advised that the number of homeless families in the UK has risen by more than 60% and this is likely to have been driven by the Government’s welfare reforms. Private sector rents have gone up by 3x as much as wages since 2010 – except in N& E Midlands.

The Local Government Association said on 13 October 2017: ‘Councils have to plug the gap between rising rents and frozen housing benefit.’

The H&HS draft discusses liaising with private landlords to keep private sector tenancies going, and confirms that the PRS team can advise on schemes such as Home Choice, the Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme, Real Lettings Scheme.


RECOMMENDATION: The PRS team is clearly vital in maintaining relationships with existing Landlords and in encouraging others (only 3% at present) to take tenants on housing/universal benefit. Advice on all these schemes should be clearly set out and widely available in community centres, libraries etc. The Council needs to consider whether this team needs to be increased in size to match the growth in homelessness from tenancies terminated in the private sector.


  1. Rough Sleepers

The H&HS draft includes, at p.69:

(i) ‘exploring flexible options to accommodate or support homeless rough sleepers …who have no local connection to the city or anywhere else, and no recourse to public funds’

This is an important step towards making provision for those who have previously fallen outside the safety net of local connection. Provision may be made by providing travel costs to a place where the rough sleeper (RS) does have a local connection. However, if a RS has lived on the streets of Oxford for, say, 12 months, should there not come a point where the City provides for him locally if no other connection can be established? This is an important debate, which may lead to calls for a national policy of support.

RECOMMENDATION 1: The H&HS draft needs to specify how these people can become eligible for Oxfordshire services, and how they can then access accommodation and the homelessness pathway. Without a clear strategy defining who can access support, it is likely that few in this group will see much improvement in their current drifting life style.


The City Council should draw up a list of minimum requirements to meet the needs of RSs – this should include a substantial increase in shower facilities, possibly at drop in centres like the Gatehouse, and provision of clothes for interviews.

(ii) ‘ensure adequate crisis accommodation including winter and severe weather provision’

For a civilised city, this is no more than a basic humanitarian response.

RECOMMENDATION 3: The H&HS needs to include an appendix, continually updated, of accommodation available for rough sleepers in cold weather. The point at which ’severe weather’ provision is triggered is currently three successive nights at freezing temperatures. This should be reconsidered – a fridge runs at approx. 4 degrees C so no one should be expected to sleep safely outside at that temperature.

The churches and other institutions offering crisis accommodation should be given ongoing training and support, and additional places should be sought. A sit-up room is not adequate. 

  1. Punitive Measures

These have been applied to rough sleepers by many local authorities. These include Oxford. The imposition of Commmunity Protection Notices in this city on 19 July 2017 made the national as well as the local press. The notices, accompanied by a letter, were pinned to the property of rough sleepers in the city centre, requiring them to remove their property to storage within 24 hours, failing which a fine of £2,500 could be levied.

This action was represented by the Board Member for Housing in Council on 2 October as a Health and Safety issue – fire escape exits were allegedly blocked by rough sleepers’ possessions – although the use of fire regulation powers could have solved this apparent issue without recourse to CPNs.

The H&HS Draft makes no mention of community protection notices, and refers to the imposition of penalties on rough sleepers in the most minimal terms: para 5.78: ‘as a last resort (the Council) will explore the use of various legislations’.


The Strategy should include a clear set of rules, establishing the criteria upon which CPNs could be issued. An individual CPN would have to be authorized in writing by the Legal Department and by the Head of Service in each case.


The use of other punitive measures e.g. Anti-Social Behavior Orders, Public Spaces Protection Orders, should be subject to the same set of rules as PCNs.

  1. Establishing a Stakeholder/Partnership Forum


This is an important idea that needs to be expanded on in the strategy. Which institutions e.g. large/small businesses, colleges, are to be approached? Is the creation of this forum underway?

RECOMMENDATION: Advertise this project widely and encourage the forum to come forward with new initiatives.


COMMENTS on management of HMOs

We welcome the commitment in the Consultation Document to improved enforcement of controls over houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) including the commitment to require HMOs to meet Energy Level 3 from April 2018. However more specific commitments are needed.

It is estimated that less than half of all HMOs in Oxford are legally licensed as they should be. While Oxford does better than some other local authorities in enforcing HMO licensing, with 25 prosecutions a year as compared with a national average per local authority of less than 2 a year, much more is needed.

It is intolerable that landlords are able to continue to make large profits by letting properties without the basic safety and amenity standards required for licensing as an HMO.

Nevertheless, we consider that HMOs are an effective way of providing housing for people, provided that they are operating to good standards.

We would urge the Council to set an ambitious target to increase the number of HMOs which are properly licensed by 500 a year in each of the next three years. Meeting that target would still not ensure that all HMOs in Oxford are licensed, but would represent a substantial improvement on the present situation.


We believe that good use can be made of the new powers introduced by the Housing and Planning Act 2016 for local authorities to impose civil penalties.   These powers are more time-consuming to operate than a prosecution in the magistrate’s court, but can ensure meaningful penalties of up to £30,000, the proceeds of which can be retained by the local authority (unlike fines imposed after conviction in court). Imposition of substantial civil penalties should enable additional staff to be funded to ensure the enforcement of the licensing provisions and other laws relating to safety of rented housing, and should also encourage many more landlords to register voluntarily.


As well as campaigning for better-regulated HMOs the Council should promote better quality HMOs as a good choice for young working people wanting to live in Oxford.

The Council should encourage the supply of HMOs. This should include new build HMOs, given that HMOs can be particularly effective at using space well.


University and College owned HMOs are exempted from consideration in the H&HS. It would be helpful in creating an accurate picture of how HMOs are spread across the City if University/College HMOs could be listed and included in the overall figures, preferably on a ward basis.

COMMENTS on Bringing Empty Buildings back into use

It was not immediately clear from the H&HS draft what the exact nature of the empty homes in the area was. Is buy-to-leave investing a big problem? Or is it more the case that properties are left derelict with landlords lacking the necessary funds to invest in renovation for renting purposes? It seemed that the latter case was the more prevalent.

Penalty measures are a possibility:

1.Empty Homes Premium

There have been proposals by certain councils to advance the council tax rise of 50% for an unrented, vacant property from two years to a year. The problem with this in dealing with wealthy home owners seems clear: an additional sum of £1000 per year is unlikely to discourage them, whether the council tax rise occurs after two years or one.

2.Penalty fines

This was a London Borough’s response to discovering 300 properties left empty on Bishop’s Avenue, as revealed by the gap in the electoral register. The Borough put forward plans to enable it to fine landlords £60,000 if a property was not regularly rented.


On the evidence of history, the use of Empty Management Dwelling orders seems to be exceptionally rare.

There are also schemes to encourage landlords to renovate their properties and make them ready for rent. Awareness is the key thing. If landlords were more aware of the antisocial significance of leaving a property empty, and the council more proactive in getting involved, and citizens were more aware of the possibility of reporting the issue to an EPO, change would happen.


A greater appeal to the community to report empty housing. Currently there is no general awareness of empty housing as an issue. An easily googleable option for a proactive citizen (‘report empty house oxford’) could bring up the telephone number for the Empty Properties Officer, who could then be contacted by email or phone.


A visible PR campaign, encouraging residents to report empty housing, and thereby develop a consciousness of the issue, would be effective, and in particular would stimulate landlord awareness.


A greater number of officers. Our expectation would be that, as soon as the council gets in touch with landlords, things would begin to happen. In this scenario, there would need to be an increased number of officers to engage with landlords.

COMMENTS on Short Term Rentals and AirBnBs

Housing costs in Oxford have risen markedly in real terms in recent years. This is driven by macro economic factors, but also by local ones that the city council may choose to influence. In a compact tourist city with limited hotel and hostel accommodation, short-term rental of furnished apartments is extremely lucrative. With the rise of websites such as AirBnB (not mentioned in H&HS), a significant and rising number of properties are being marketed as short-term rentals, reducing property supply and thereby driving up prices for residents. A series of searches carried out on the AirBnB platform suggests there are over 300 whole properties currently available for rent in Oxford. This is likely to be an underestimate owing to the presence of other platforms. Importantly, AirBnB rentals appear to be increasing at a significant rate [1] (data from London).

Short term rentals are also associated with other harmful consequences, such as pop-up brothels, with a UK parliament investigation imminent [2]. Cities such as Barcelona [3], Berlin [4], London [5], Amsterdam [5] and others have recognised the problem and have all restricted AirBnB to varying levels.

RECOMMENDATION: Oxford should adopt a similar approach to London, requiring AirBnB and other short term rental companies to limit the number of days per year that a property can be rented on the platform (max 90). This would be a reasonable compromise: allowing property owners to make income when not residing in the propery, while limiting the desirability of buy-to- short-let properties [5]. Short-let rentals that are properly registered in terms of planning would of course be exempt.


Response prepared by the Housing & Homelessness sub-committee

Liz Wade, Paul Harris, Ed Martineau, Nick Harding

1 November 2017

Statements on safety from Brookes and Unite following Grenfell Tower tragedy

We have asked for statements from Oxford Brookes University and from Unite on safety of buildings.

Statement from Oxford Brookes University

Given the tragic incident at Grenfell we have made sure that our buildings continue to be of the highest standards for safety.

All our campus buildings are fully fire rated and designed with extensive fire resistance and safety features which meet the approved fire strategy. In terms of new builds there is a fire engineer employed by the University to ensure we comply with current regulations, which would include cladding.

We will continue to monitor the situation in case of any changes to regulations.


Here is Unite’s statement on fire safety which was sent to Oxford Brookes University, Unite manages Dorset House and the new Beech House development on the corners of London Road and Latimer Road.

In light of the recent tragedy in London, I wanted to give you some reassurance about Unite Students and our buildings. Below is a detailed outline of what we do and how we operate in respect to fire safety.

The safety of our properties is a key priority so we have, for some time, been working with Avon Fire and Rescue Service as part of a primary authority scheme to make sure that our buildings, policies and procedures not only comply with existing regulations but exceed them. This is supported by a robust fire risk assessment regime carried out in each premises using experienced accredited fire risk assessors who are members of the Institution of Fire Engineers. In Scotland we also undergo a rigorous licensing scheme on all properties as part of the House in Multiple Occupancy Regulations.

All of our properties comply with building regulations and have the necessary life safety systems installed that match the individual requirements of the building in question. This may include but will not be limited to alarm systems, sprinklers, dry/wet risers and automatic smoke ventilation. It is important to note that each premises will have different requirements in terms of installed fire safety systems dependent on aspects such as the number of floors, the number of escape routes and when the building was constructed or refurbished.

We have fully addressable L (Life) type fire alarm systems in all of our properties which means that all areas of the premises are covered with detection, including bedrooms, kitchens, plant rooms and communal areas. Our trained staff are alerted immediately to undertake a fire investigation at the point of activation and where necessary co-ordinate evacuation.  This alarm is also connected to an internal ARC that is manned 24/7 and 365 days of the year. 

Our fire alarm systems work on a phased evacuation, which means that residents will be prompted to evacuate based on risk and the presence of fire or smoke that could present risk and so as to not impede the fire service.  We do not operate a stay put policy and in the event of smoke or heat being detected, our systems assume that a fire situation is present and all residents are prompted to evacuate.

To support our fire safety systems, we also undertake routine inspections of our compartmentation to ensure that the fire strategy of the building is not compromised. This is done with third parties who are members of the “Association for Specialist Fire Protection” and double checked as part of our fire risk assessment regime.  This compartmentation strategy incorporates fire doors throughout the premises which are all fitted with self-closers to ensure that compartments are maintained.

All of our life systems are robustly tested in line with British Standards guidelines by competent staff and accredited third parties to ensure that they are operational at all times.  We conduct routine inspections on all plant and equipment including electrical and gas systems using accredited personal and third parties.

In 2015, we conducted a review specifically looking at the cladding on our high rise buildings, for reference this is properties with ten stories or more. Following this week’s tragic events, we have launched a further urgent review to assess whether we need to tighten up our current procedures in any way and will monitor and remain current with any findings or recommendations following an investigation into this event.

In addition to the physical fire safety measures we have in place, our staff are trained on their duties to undertake with regards to proactive and reactive fire safety management, which includes building inspections, routine fire alarm testing, evacuations and inductions for residents.

Statement re tower block safety in Oxford

Here is a statement from Oxford City Council regarding tower block safety.

The City Council is in the middle of a major refurbishment of our 5 tower blocks namely Windrush and Evenlode on Blackbird Leys, Hockmore at Temple Cowley, Foresters in Wood Farm and Plowman in Northway. The project includes improvements to the fire safety of the buildings.

In light of the tragic fire that occurred today in Kensington and Chelsea and that Grenfell Tower has also undergone a major refurbishment an urgent review of our project has been undertaken. Whilst it will be some considerable time for the investigation to complete and report we have tried to cover issues that have emerged from the media reports so far.

The key points are that

  • The design of the fire safety elements of the project was carried out in full consultation with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue service ( OFRS ) and the Council’s Building Control service and the works when finally complete will be formally signed off by those services.

  • We are installing sprinkler systems to all dwellings. These are already operational in Windrush, Evenlode and Hockmore and are scheduled to complete in Plowman and Foresters by December 2017.These are not required by law but we decided to include them following discussions with OFRS and reviewing the recommendations from previous investigation reports into other tower block fires ( Eg Lakanhal in Southwark in 2009 )

  • We are installing a fully automated fire detection system both in individual flats as well as communal areas; that is connected directly to the fire service. Again this is already complete for Windrush, Evenlode and Hockmore.

  • The external cladding system fitted complies with all current legislation, the insulation is fire retardant and there are fire barriers at each floor level. We do not believe it is the same cladding system but we are double checking.

  • Dry risers are checked regularly to ensure they are working. These are the internal pipes with outlets at each floor that allow the fire engines to pump up high pressure water from the ground floor to each upper floor to enable them to fight the fire from the inside which is the standard practice for towers. The fire service has limitations on the equipment available to fight fire from the outside on very tall buildings.

  • Fire doors are in place to both communal areas and front entrance doors and these are being checked and upgraded where necessary as part of the works. Where residents have replaced their own front doors we are checking to ensure compliance. This may require enforcement if tenants or leaseholders refuse. We are also double checking that residents have also not installed doors for security reasons that would hamper the fire service from forcing entry to fight a fire.

  • Smoke extraction vents to stairwells are being installed which will disperse smoke from the means of escape.

  • Evacuation procedures have been reviewed with OFRS and notices of the revised arrangements have already been installed for those blocks that have already got the new detection system. We do not have a stay put policy in Hockmore and have a partial stay put to the other blocks i.e. if a fire is detected to a floor then the alarm sounds on that floor and to the floors above and below with instructions to evacuate. We may need to review this with OFRS colleagues in due course but their advice as of today remains the same

  • Access for engines have been checked to ensure there are no obstructions during our works

What sort of city do you want Oxford to be by 2036?

At next Tuesday’s Ward Focus meeting, Richard Wyatt from the City Council will be asking our residents important questions about Oxford’s future, including:

  • what sort of homes should be provided?
  • are more student halls of residence needed? More homes for older people? More affordable homes for key workers?
  • should blocks of housing be taller in order to provide a greater density of accommodation in some places?

Also at next week’s meeting, Rob Fowler from the Planning Department will come along to answer questions on the planning process relating to the latest energy pipe application, provided that application has been validated in time.

We shall also tackle hot topics like how to get parking permits, and whether Windmill Road should have a 20 MPH limit.


Headington School, London Road

Tuesday 28 June

6:00-7:30 pm

All welcome.  And an Open Session too!

First newsletter about Beech House development (Latimer Road student accommodation)

We have received the first newsletter from Winvic and reproduce it in full for our residents’ information.


MAY 2016

Project title – Beech House, Latimer Road, Oxford, OX3 7PF Project duration – 59 Weeks

Current Week No. -1


Winvic have been appointed to construct the Beech House student accommodation development on Latimer Road, Oxford.

The project comprises of the demolition works to 4 existing dwellings inclusive of external walls and garden sheds.

A temporary heras fence will be installed to the perimeter of site to allow the external walls to be demolished to allow the permanent timber hoarding to be installed.

The main development consists of the construction of a five storey Student Accommodation ground with basement & a 4 storey Residential Accommodation in a separate apartment block, adjacent to main development.

The main elements of the development will consist of secant piling and tanking works to the basement, steel frame, brick work, render, external windows and roof works.

Works and phasing will take into account the neighbourhood and congestion.



We will keep you regularly updated on the status of the works with a monthly newsletter, however should you have any queries or concerns regarding the project please do not hesitate to contact our Project Manager, Nick Lakin 077209 71948.


The associated Demolition works for the Project are due to commence on site during week commencing 31st May 2016.

However, the initial works which comprise of the erection of temporary Fencing to allow the boundary walls to be removed and the installation of the permanent timber hoarding are due to commence during week commencing 23rd May 2016.

Throughout our works we will liaise closely with the surrounding Businesses and Residents and issue regular newsletters highlighting our forthcoming works.

  • Vehicular traffic will be monitored and major deliveries booked in to minimise any disruption caused to local businesses and close neighbours.
  • Site logistic plans will be posted at the front of site and updated within the newsletters.
  • Dust and noise will be monitored throughout our works working closely with the local authorities to manage our construction works as efficiently as possible.

Nick Lakin

Project Manager
Winvic Construction Ltd
Brampton House, 19 Tenter Road Moulton Park, Northampton NN3 6PZ

T +44 (0)1604 678960 F +44 (0)1604 671021 E

  • At Winvic we believe in working closely with community to minimise any disturbance our works may cause and will be enrolling in the considerate constructor’s scheme to ensure only the highest standards are achieved.


As another element of our quality control, we aim to reduce the impact of our work on the neighbours by following the codes of practice set out in the Considerate Constructors Scheme [CCS], to which all Winvic projects are entered. This automatically measures how we deal with public questions and complaints.


Rough sleepers – how to get help for them

Following a resident request for information, here is how to get help for rough sleepers.

Oxford City Council commissions St Mungo’s Broadway to deliver an assertive outreach and reconnection service to those rough sleeping in the city of Oxford. This service is called Oxford Street Population Outreach Team (Oxford SPOT) and the team works 7 days per week, helping people rough sleeping in the city to access appropriate accommodation and support.

Please contact Oxford SPOT directly, rather than through the Council or your councillors, as this is the fastest way for a rough sleeper to get in touch with organisations that can help.

Oxford SPOT can be contacted via phone on 01865 304 611 or via e-mail at

Oxford SPOT will try to locate the person in order to offer assistance to access suitable accommodation and support. The team will also be able to advise of other services in the city that can offer help and assistance such as food and clothes, or sign-post to local organisations in the city that can help with employment, training and employment.

For more information about rough sleeping and the work that is done to tackle this in the city, please see the Frequently Asked Questions document here

Severe Weather Emergency Protocol

Oxford City Council has a protocol in place with local homelessness agencies to ensure that there is provision of extra bed spaces for rough sleepers during the cold winter months. The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) sets out a joint effort between Oxford City Council and homelessness agencies in Oxford city to take all possible steps to avoid deaths on the streets due to people sleeping rough during severe winter weather conditions.

SWEP is usually triggered when the night time temperature is forecast by the Met Office to drop to zero or below for three consecutive nights. The protocol is implemented on the first night of such a forecast.

In order to access this emergency provision, a person should satisfy the below criteria:

  • Be at risk if they continue to sleep rough during the course of the severe weather
  • Have nowhere to sleep indoors during the course of the severe weather
  • Agree to the assistance offered

The provision offered is very basic, generally consisting of a roll mat and a sleeping bag, but does mean that someone who might otherwise sleep rough on the streets of Oxford, is offered space indoors and out of the cold.

O’Hanlon House, one of the homeless hostels in the city, co-ordinates the provision and will allocate spaces in the other homeless hostels if O’Hanlon House reach its capacity.

When provision is open, rough sleepers and support agencies acting on their behalf should contact O’Hanlon House directly, before 4pm, on 01865 304 600 to make arrangements for access.