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Credit where credit’s due: the up-side of Waterwatch

Anyone who has visited this site will know the frustration that many residents have felt about Thames Water — frustrations shared by both your local councillors and your Parliamentary Spokesperson, Steve Goddard. So, it’s fair to give a balanced picture. While many issues have been for too long needling local people and, in some cases, causing problems none of us would like to experience, it’s true to say staff from Thames Water have recently been jumping to it.

I say this because this morning I attended a meeting in Brookside about the continuing problem residents have there with repeated flows of sewage through the brook which gives the cul-de-sac its name. It was held in one resident’s house (thank you), had seven local householders present, and had two specialists from the Environmental Agency present, along with four from the Thames Water. For the first time, residents could feel they were talking to real people who could reply immediately to their questions. The result was not a resolution, as yet, but at least, it was an agreement on a way forward, with Thames Water promising to commission the work and report back regularly to the residents.

So, I’m not about to declare Thames Water my New Best Friend — there’s a lot of work to be done on the Brookside issue, as elsewhere. But, if what we have seen is a line of improvement which continues upwards, maybe next year they will be on my Christmas Card list!

WaterWatch update

More good news for residents living in Old Headington. Thames Water assures us that a job has been raised for their clean water side to check the ‘clinking’ metal cover in Old High Street that rattles every time a car passes over it (near North Place).
The reference number is 81119 596127.

The bent metal manhole cover near Laurel Farm Place is puzzling us as it does not seem to belong to anyone! We’re still working on how to replace that!

The slightly sunken manhole cover in the middle of St. Andrew’s Road towards the triangle with Osler Road is definitely going to be replaced, but the job is being added to the non-urgent list.
All in all we think we are making progress and, once Thames Water come and give the St Andrew’s Road foul sewer and fresh water sewer a good cleanout by the end of the month as promised, things should be on the up. There is still a strange smell being reported in Old High Street/St Andrew’s Road though, and we’re still on the case.

There will be a big meeting about the Boundary Brook contamination on Friday – more later!

Stephen Road planning decision called in

Those who attended the planning meeting of the North East Area Committee last Thursday will remember that the planning application relating to 10/12 Stephen Road was discussed.  The decision of the area committee has now been called in by the Strategic Development Control Committee for further consideration.  There are two ways that decisions by area committees can be called in – either by the most senior officer in charge of planning at the Council (Michael Crofton-Briggs) or by four councillors.  This decision has been called in by the portfolio holder for planning, Cllr Colin Cook, and three other councillors. 

The membership of that committee is: Councillors Abbasi, Altaf Khan, Benjamin (Vice-Chair), Brundin, Christian (Chair), Cook, Goddard, Gotch, Khan, Keen, Timbs and Young. The Committee has a meeting scheduled for today but it is too late to include this item within the agenda.  The next date scheduled for the committee to meet is the 18 December and I have asked one of the officers to double check that date for us as it’s so near Christmas. A number of meeting dates have been changed at short notice recently so I will post this up when it has been confirmed.

Pedestrian safety in London Road

Residents are very worried about the safety of pedestrians (and particularly the elderly folk from London Court, Albany Court and Victoria Court) on the stretch of London Road between Sandfield Road and Horwood Close and beyond. I have been out to look at this and am concerned about the safety of pedestrians coming out of the Dial House and other B&B establishments as there is no obvious means of crossing the London Road to a place of safety.

I reported this last week to the officer managing the London Road redevelopment project and here is his response:

All these works are being carried out as part of the London Road
Corridor scheme.
Most of the construction work is located in and around the footway /
kerbline area and impacts on the carriageway and footway areas.
As you will appreciate we need to consider all safety issues when
carrying out the works and protect the public by setting up and signing
safe routes to follow. Where possible we will try and maintain a through
route on the side where the work is being undertaken but in this instant
the work involves the refurbishment of a gas main in the footway area
from Headley Way to Osler Road followed by changes to the kerbline and
resurfacing of the footway.
The safest way to carry out this work and provide a safe route for
pedestrians was to close the footway and provide temporary pedestrian
crossings at each end to allow safe crossing of the main road.
Signs have been erected informing pedestrians that the footway is closed
and directing them across the crossing as the route to follow.

I can not physically force a member of the public to follow the route
but hopefully common sense will prevail and they will refrain from
walking in the road.

If you have concerns about this, and we know many of you do, please contact David or me, or ring the County Council on 01865 792422 and ask for Mike Collins!

Is it safe to cycle on Headington roads?

David and I get lots of emails and phone calls from residents concerned about safety issues:

  • cyclists don’t feel safe because of buses
  • pedestrians say cyclists on pavements are a nuisance
  • elderly residents have “near misses” with cyclists
  • cyclists say Osler Road and the Windmill Road junctions are death traps
  • why do cyclists jump lights?
  • why don’t cyclists get fined for riding on pavements?
  • why do motorists cut up cyclists?
  • why aren’t there more ‘joined up’ cycle lanes?
  • Why isn’t there more training for cyclists?

If these questions and issues are of concern to you, then PLEASE come along to the North East Area Committee meeting on Tuesday 18 November at 6 p.m.   The venue is Sandhills School, Terret Avenue.  David and I have specifically requested that this item is debated openly. If you have a question you want to put to the County Council and City Council traffic planners, please please PLEASE come along to NEAC and tell us what you think!

WaterWatch Update

tap1.jpg     NEWS OF OUR CAMPAIGN!


David is attending a meeting with local residents and representatives of Thames Water and the Environment Agency to exchange information and monitor action taken in regard to the pollution of Boundary Brook by sewage flows.

Stoke Place / St Andrew’s Road 

Thames Water sent out their  network engineer to Stoke Place and St Andrews Road on Monday, he lifted the manhole covers and checked the flows in both the surface water and foul water sewers. There were no problems with blockages on Monday which was a wet day. He couldn’t find any definite evidence of a misconnection of foul water into the surface water sewer. The foul water sewer is a lot deeper than the surface water sewer. Thames Water will be cleaning the foul and surface water sewers in Stoke Place, St Andrews Road and Old High Street to try to prevent further blockages which caused the flooding in this area. This is scheduled to be done within the next month.

Stockleys Road and Saxon Way, Northway

I shall contact Thames Water further about the smells coming up from sinks in these areas, once I have authorisation from the tenants to disclose their contact details

Manhole covers in Old High St and Laurel Farm Place

It would appear that these can only be looked at when referred on from the Highways Dept so I shall contact them again with details and ask them to pass these on to Thames Water, this is an indirect route but it appears to be the correct way to get things done

Peter Claridge from Thames Water writes:

I would encourage the residents to call in to us when they have problems or
to contact our customer relations department if they want to write to us.
This will make sure that all the issues are recorded properly on our
systems and we can investigate fully.  Also, if the customers write to us
we are obliged under by OFWAT to reply to them within 10 days.

I am grateful to Peter for his help thus far

Should we pay for waste collections?

The Labour City Council has produced a Talkback Survey, being sent to about 1,000 residents, in which it is proposed:

  • to charge for collecting bulky waste collections up to a rate of £20 for 1 – 3 items
  • to charge £35 every year for renting a wheelie bin for garden waste

Not content with a hike in the unfair Council Tax, they are thinking up new taxes to impose on the residents of Oxford.

We know that, what with cuts in government funding to local councils and a miserly settlement from Labour for OAP bus passes, finances are chronically stretched at the City Council. But that shouldn’t be taken as a licence to hit residents with new taxes. They should sort out the back office before they start cutting front-line services.