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Calling OCH tenants and residents!

Last Wednesday and Friday mornings, I took the opportunity to work shadow our local estates manager, Adrian Stone, accompany him on a walkabout in the ward, and go with him on a series of visits to Oxford City Homes tenants and leaseholders.

He showed me how he runs off reports from his database to produce visit lists – the software automatically prioritises the frequency of visits needed to different tenants, and produces a list of the next 60 properties for him to visit. It’s important to make these visits as the information kept about tenants and leaseholders, like mobile phone nos. etc and personal circumstances, can change frequently, and it’s also a good opportunity for residents to tell him what needs repairing or updating in the property. If an elderly person is living on his/her own, then s/he will be allocated a higher priority for visits.

Councillors deal with similar types of issues so Adrian and I learned a lot from each other, things like liaising with Oxford City Works and the Crime and Nuisance Action Team. Adrian’s job includes notifying surveyors of work that needs doing like insulation and arranging for visits and quotes to be made, and ensuring that repairs are done.

David and I will be going on another walkabout in the ward at 2 p.m. on 18 September and are keen to identify areas near Oxford City Homes properties that require ‘sprucing up’ – we shall be accompanied by the officer with the appropriate budget for this. One area I’d like him to look at is an area in Mattocks Close where we’d like to have shrubs planted, and there is a stretch of uneven pavement there that needs attention. If you are an OCH tenant or leaseholder, and know of similar situations, please let us know and we’ll make sure we ‘walk about’ in a useful direction! If you see us about, stop and say hello!

A Hindu Temple for Oxford?

You may have read in the local press recently about a new project looking at providing a Hindu Temple for the county’s Hindu community, possibly in Oxford and possibly in the Headington area. I met last week two of the organisers of this new project to learn from them what their community wants and to see how we can work together in future.

It should be said that this project is at a very early stage, at the moment gathering support in the Hindu community across the county. In the first instance, the intention is to hold regular prayer meetings at an accessible location — the first occasion is in Kennington on 14th September where I hope to be to watch and learn about the ceremonies. In the longer term, there will be a fund-raising campaign looking to support a building and a priest. At that stage, they will be looking for a suitable site, which is in large part dependent on the location of those wanting to attend.

The Headington area, in its widest sense, already serves a range of faith groups, with a variety of Christain churches and, in Marston, the Sikh community represented. I am on record praising the cosmopolitan and open nature of Oxford and I would see a Hindu Temple as a further addition to that positive tradition. Equally, the help I’m giving to the project does not mean I want to tie them solely to my part of the city; I appreciate that there may well be other locations better suited to them than our area of Headington. My hope is that, in the fullness of time, they will find a site, in or near the city, best suited to them. I hope you join me in wishing them good fortune in their endeavours.

Consultation on Oxford 20mph proposals

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A series of public meetings will take place in Oxford for people to attend and register their point of view with the county council. Please see the County Council’s website for details of public meetings on this issue, and how to send in your views and comments electronically.

Local organisations will be contacted for their comments by the County. If you wish to air your views on this issue, then please come to the next North east Area Committee meeting on Tuesday 16 September at St. Andrew’s Primary School at 6 p.m.

School bus to Cherwell starts Monday

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Residents have asked about the extended bus service to Cherwell School which was expected to start in September. I have received confirmation from the County that this is going ahead and will start on Monday. Here is the email:

I can confirm the minor change to 700 that has been agreed with R H Transport, will take place as from Monday 1st September 2008

The existing 700 journey that currently leaves the J.R. Hospital at 08.05 and operates via Marsh Lane and the Northern By-Pass (i.e. the peak hour anti-flow route) will instead, from Monday, operate via Cherwell Drive and Marston Ferry Road (i.e. the normal daytime route). This will be just this one journey via this route at this time; the next Marston Ferry Road and Summertown routed journey is not then scheduled until 09.05.

Separate discussions are ongoing about a further extension of 700 to/from Churchill Hospital via Headington (London Road) and I suspect that the company was confused by this reference – hence the negative reply. The diverted 08.05 bus will, of course, still start from the J. R. Hospital bus terminus as now.

The company do offer a 10 jny multi-ride card (12 trips for the price of 10). Journeys are then cancelled as a when undertaken. The last 700 in the afternoon calls at the school at about 15.20 so later children will have to return on the Stagecoach 14 service in any case.

Postal services and collections of parcels

Following on from a number of enquiries from residents and via the eForum, I have received the following comments from the regional External Relations Executive that I though I would share with you. Please hit the comments button to register your views.

1. Inaccessibility to Ledgers’ Lane by public transport from Headington to
collect undelivered parcels.

I fully understand that for customers who do not have access to a car they
may find it difficult to travel to the new location. However, our
understanding is that there are bus stops (for the number 1, 5 & 5a bus
services) in the locale of Ledgers Close.

Perhaps it would help if I explained that there are various options
available to customers to avoid the need to travel to our East Oxford
Delivery Office to collect their undeliverable mail.

The options that are then available to the customer are:

Have the item re-delivered to their address or any other local address
free of charge at a mutually convenient date & time.
Local Collect Service – for 50p the item can be taken to their local
Post Office branch for collection.
Another person can collect the item on their behalf from the delivery
office upon producing the card and suitable ID for the named addressee.

The first two options can be arranged by telephone or via the Royal Mail
website.

Also some mail order companies will allow customers, at the point of
purchase, to nominate an alternative delivery address.

2. Concerns over the resourcing and management of the Delivery Office at
Ledgers’ Lane as there are often queues. Someone has been informed that
there is a shortfall of 17 staff there.

Following the move of Headington to East Oxford the weekday opening hours
of the Callers Office were extended to cope with the increase in customer
numbers, the opening hours are now: 07:00 – 17:00 Monday – Friday and 07:00
– 12:30 Saturdays. These extended hours have helped to spread the workload
on the staff working in the office and enabled them to offer a far improved
service to customers who have a need to visit or make contact with them.

We would like to apologise to our customers for the length of the queues on
occasions that is due to the extremely high number of packages at certain
times of the year e.g. Easter, Valentines day, Christmas etc. Our staff
always working very hard to serve people as quickly as possible. Again it
is worth referring to the other options available to customers that I
detailed in my response to point 1.

There are a number of vacancies in the office, however, the callers office
is always fully manned.

3. The popular suggestion that undelivered parcels could be collected from
Headington Post Office (I believe that this service used to be available in
Headington before a building was disposed of, so expectations are still
high that this service can be replaced).

There are several Post Office branches in the area, which we believe
includes the Headington branch, where customers can request for their item
to be taken to their local Post Office branch for collection for a nominal
charge of for 50p (Local Collect Service).

4. There are also concerns that there isn’t always a daily postal delivery
service to homes in the area – it would be useful if you could provide some
statistics on this!

As part of The Licence issued by the Postal Services Commission (Postcomm)
Royal Mail is obliged to provide a delivery service to all addresses within
the UK Monday to Saturdays, unless the receiving address has been
classified as a Universal Service Obligation (USO) exception. Any failures
have to be reported to Postcomm on a monthly basis.

The Delivery sector Manager has confirmed that deliveries are being made
daily to every house in Headington that receives mail that day.

I trust I have allayed your concerns regarding the issues above and we are
confident that East Oxford Delivery Office will continue to strive to
provide an exceptional service to all their customers.

However, if you feel it would still be beneficial for you to meet with both
the Delivery Sector Manager and local Delivery Manager please let me know.

Margaret Road/ St. Anne’s Road surgery

Many thanks to all who came along to our street surgery on the corner of Margaret Road and St Anne’s Road on Thursday. Many issues were raised, including the need for a local Residents’ Association, the need for a Wooldridge Court street sign, the proposed mast on Rock Edge, residents’ parking zones, lack of progress on the Manor Ground development, bus routes and waiting areas, light pollution, street clutter, postal services, near misses caused by on-pavement cycle tracks, and cycling routes down Old Road. The sequencing of traffic lights at the Windmill Road/London Road junction was of high concern as two near misses had been seen last week, and a silver Mercedes car was seen speeding across the lights from Old High Street down Windmill Road which was highly dangerous (this has been reported to us previously by Old Headington residents). Lots of casework for us to be getting on with!

Residents in York Road would like to raise issues with us, and we shall try to fix a date for this so that a county councillor can attend as well

We valued all your comments, and are especially pleased that there is so much support for a new residents’ association to be set up in this part of the ward. If you live in the area bounded by Windmill Road, Langley Close, Margaret Road, York Road, and Old Road, including Gathorne Road, Rock Edge, Wooldridge Court and St. Anne’s Road, and you would like to be kept informed about the setting up of a new residents’ association, please let us have your contact details – we shall update you with developments!

London Road – traffic/crossing signals out until Wednesday

The signals have gone down at Gipsy Lane and there is currently no pedestrian crossing signal in operation near the junction of Latimer Road and London Road because of damage to an underground cable.

The County Council has called in the signals company to investigate the fault, and unfortunately repairs cannot be carried out until next Wednesday 3 September.

David and I have asked that this work is given highest priority.

National traffic statistics

untitled1.JPGThe Department for Transport’s annual road statistics have been published this month. They show that traffic has increased by 14% and that there are now 7,000 more roads since Labour came to power.

The statistics also show that HGVs have increased by 9.4% since 1997, and that 82% of them break the 50 mph speed limit on non built-up dual carriageways.

In the last fortnight, Ruth Kelly announced yet another £6bn to widen motorways.

Speaking in 1997, John Prescott said: “I will have failed if in five years’ time there are not many more people using public transport and far fewer journeys by car. It’s a tall order but I urge you to hold me to it.”

Licensing applications

David and I have received quite a few enquiries lately about licensing applications concerning premises in the Headington area.  If you want to find out more, please click on the Council’s licensing application search link

I shall make a link to this search site from the left hand toolbar so that you can reach it quickly at any time