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Have your say on neighbourhood nuisance!

I am about to join a review panel on antisocial behaviour which will have a remit for scrutinising facts and figures on how “antisocial behaviour” or neighbourhood nuisance is tackled by the City officers and the agencies with they work in partnership.

The scope of this panel is being drawn up currently – if you have any ideas about what this should be, or if you have any comments about the way in which antisocial behaviour is tackled across the City, please let me know soon – by Thursday 7 August, or at the street surgery in Latimer Road on Thursday night from 6.00 pm-7.30 pm. I would welcome your comments on this.

Bus tickets and fare stages

Oxford City Council Concessionary Travel Scheme  Concessionary bus passengers are often concerned that zero-value concessionary tickets issued to them by bus drivers appear to mis-state the actual destination of the passenger. Passengers may be worried that the Council will be “over-charged” for the journey made, and have regularly raised this concern with elected members and Council staff.  The fact is that with the Council’s present arrangements for reimbursing bus operators, there is not a direct relationship between the length of a passenger’s journey and the payment that the bus operator receives for carrying that passenger. So it makes no difference to the operator – or to the Council – if drivers accurately record concessionary passenger destinations, or do not. The key thing is to ensure that drivers accurately records all concessionary zero fare journeys as such, and that no fare paying passengers are recorded as making a concessionary journey. 

Accurate estimation of the fare revenue that the operator would receive from concessionary passengers if there was no concessionary scheme is a very complex and controversial topic, in which practical considerations are as important as theoretical accuracy. Estimates of the fare that would be paid for concessionary journeys is only one aspect of this. The method used by the City Council uses the average cash fare actually paid by non-concessionary passengers as a proxy for the average fare that would be paid by concessionary passengers in the absence of the scheme. This avoids the practical problems of having to accurately record the actual destinations of all concessionary passengers. It means that errors in recording concessionary passengers have no impact on the amount of reimbursement received by operators.  Other concessionary travel schemes do use the destinations stated by passengers to estimate the fare, but the accuracy of this method relies upon both passengers precisely identifying where they are alighting, and accurate recording of this by the driver. It should be noted that it will often be the case that the alighting stage recorded by the driver will not be the same as the destination stated by the passengers. This does not necessarily imply an error on the part of the driver. The reason is that fares may not vary between alternative alighting stops – indeed, in

Oxford, there are very few distinct fares, so that the same fare is charged for a very large number of specific bus stop to bus stop journeys. So there is no need for drivers to record the precise destination – and if the driver was require do so, this would significantly slow down bus operations and make all passengers’ journeys slower. The conclusion is that concessionary passengers should not be concerned if their zero-fare ticket shows a different alighting point to that stated to the driver. It does not imply that the Council will get charged more for the concessionary journey, and in any case is quite likely not to reflect any error on the part of the driver.

Amendment about bus services

I have proposed the following amendment to the core strategy for discussion at full Council tomorrow, and thought I should explain a little about why I’ve done it. The amendment is:

I would like to propose that the following paragraph is inserted into the document just above Policy CS16

“Some existing residential areas currently have poor or infrequent public transport accessibility to key local services (such as a District centre), relative to other parts of Oxford. The City Council will work with its partners to improve bus services to such areas, particularly where this will support regeneration or social inclusion.”

There is already some mention of improving bus links between the proposed district centres, and this will strengthen our case for improving bus links between Headington and Summertown. However, having served on the North East Area Committee and having canvassed across the North East of the city, I recognise that areas like Risinghurst get a poor deal when it comes to bus services in the evenings and at weekends.

Another reason for proposing this amendment is to make sure that areas like Iffley, with a high percentage of elderly residents, stand a chance of getting a regular bus service out of the village. It will also help estates like Rose Hill get a regular bus service to its local primary district centre Templars Square – the new district centres will offer employment, amenities and shops so it’s important that residents in outlying estates with high levels of socio-economic deprivation have public transport to these key local services.

Public toilets

There has recently been lots of email traffic between councillors about the times at which public toilets are closed, and in my experience this sometimes happens (at Bury Knowle Park) before the shops finish trading, which seems to me to be rather a disincintive for people to continue shopping in the late afternoon. I have received the following instruction from a Works Manager which may be of interest to Headington residents and users of the Bury Knowle toilets who come to Headington to work, shop or study.

All public conveniences should be open between 08.00 and 17.00 daily and the supervisory team at City Works have been instructed to ensure that this is complied with.

Gloucester Green conveniences are opened at 07.30 by the car parks security team and are closed by this team at 23.00

There are also 24 hour facilities at Gloucester Green, Westgate Car Park, Magdalen Street East (Ladies) and Market Street

I would be grateful if you would pass on our apologies to anyone that may have been inconvenienced by some early closures.

It seems to me that when Headington is enshrined as a district centre in the new core strategy, one of the minimum service level agreements should be that there is one 24 hour public toilet facility in each district centre. Do let me have your views on this!

Oxford 2026

There will be a meeting of Full Council next Tuesday 5 August to discuss “Oxford 2026: the Oxford core strategy”. This is a very important document as it outlines the planning vision for Oxford over the next 18 years, and discusses, among other things, the proposed development of Headington and its infrastructure. If you would like to see this document, please click on the website link and select the section you want to view under item 4.1.

The document will be formally published on 5 September 2008 and there is still time to contact either Cllr David Rundle or myself if you want us to raise any associated issue at full Council. Any planning policy changes in the future are likely to refer back to this document, so we need to make sure it reflects the views of our Group and our residents. Please let us know if you have concerns about anything in this document.

How far do planners consult residents on applications?

I have been contacted by residents to ask about the degree to which public consultation has taken place with regard to the prospective application to install a mast at Rock Edge. Please click on the planning application website to view this application and quote planning reference 08/01162/CPU. This is the reply from Planning Officers.

There are three types of proposal for telecommunications:

1. Permitted development notifications
2. 56 day proposals ( up to 15 metres)
3. Full applications.

For all three we notify neighbours within 100 m and schools within 200m,
although blocks of flats will get just a notice put up in the foyer.

In addition for those:
For category 1 above the letter advises that this is permitted
development and neighbours should write to the company not us.

For category 2 we also put up 4-5 site notices on community notice
boards and other strategic sites in the area

For category 3 as well as the site notices we also put a formal notice
in the local press.

This application falls under permitted development. It
appears from the system that the 100m ruling was applied in this
instance.

**********************************************************************I

If you are a resident living close by this development (i.e. within 100 metres) and you feel you should have been consulted about the application but this has not happened, please get in touch with me via phone or email or via this website and I will investigate this further.

The planning officers have been working on a consultation guide outlining the extent to
which they should consult on all types of applications received by Oxford City Council’s Planning Dept. A copy will be posted on the Council’s website as soon as it has been signed off, and I will post a link to it from this website as soon as this has been actioned

What do Estate Managers do?

Since becoming a Councillor, I have taken the opportunity to find out more about the services provided by Oxford City Homes: I have discussed the housing policy and services provided by the City Council and its partners with senior officers, learned about the work done to offer vacant properties to tenants and about the work that is needed to ‘turn round’ newly vacated properties to make them conform to ‘decent homes standard’, and I have also taken part in a tour of some of the Council’s properties with members of the Tenants’ Involvement Panel and other tenants in Barton, Wood Farm, Rose Hill and Donnington.

Oxford City Homes have invited me to work shadow Estate Managers in Headington and in Blackbird Leys, and this will give me the chance to find out and appreciate what work they do to help tenants around the City. Here are some of the things I shall be learning about:

  • providing housing surgeries for general enquiries
  • visiting all new tenants within 28 days of them moving in
  • visiting all the tenants in the local area once a year
  • organising walkabouts with residents and councillors to inspect the areas on a regular basis
  • inspecting the communal areas to all the blocks of flats on a bi-monthly basis
  • helping tenants with their individual enquiries
  • dealing with reports of anti-social behaviour promptly and appropriately.
  • working with other agencies to the benefit of residents

If you are a tenant or leaseholder, and you would like me to ask any particular questions when I meet the Estate Managers, do let me know! Our local Estate Manager is Adrian Stone, and I shall be spending at least half a day with him in August or September  in our ward. I will post up what I learn!

Programme of construction work on the London Road

The Site Agent for Oxfordshire Highways has contacted residents living near the London Road to let them know the schedule for roadworks. I thought it would be useful to reproduce this information below.

North side from Pullens Lane to Headley Way 21 July – 20 October 2008

  • diversion of underground services
  • carriageway widening
  • drainage works
  • reconstruction and re-paving of the footways
  • installation of new traffic signs

North side from Headley Way to Osler Road 21 July – 13 October 2008

  • diversion of underground services

North side from Headley Way to Osler Road 18 August – 17 November 2008

  • carriageway widening
  • drainage works
  • resonstruction and re-paving of the footways
  • installation of new traffic signs
  • preparation work for changes to traffic signals

South side from Brookside to opposite Pullens Lane 20 October – 11 December 2008

  • diversion of underground services
  • carriageway widening
  • drainage works
  • reconstruction and re-paving of the footways
  • installation of new traffic signs
  • preparation work for changes to traffic signals

South side from New High Street to Brookside 17 November – 19 Jan 2009

  • diversion of underground services
  • carriageway widening
  • drainage works
  • reconstruction and re-paving of the footways
  • installation of new traffic signs
  • preparation work for changes to traffic signals

Oxford Brookes University public space area 18 December – 13 January 2009

  • installation of new kerbing
  • drainage works
  • installation of high quality paving materials on the footways
  • re-positioning and upgrading of the Pelican crossing outside the Gipsy Lane Campus
  • installation of new traffic signs

Headley Way to Osler Road 19 January – 9 February 2009

  • installation of traffic lights and pedestrian islands
  • re-surfacing of the road
  • installation of new road markings

Pullens Lane to Headley Way 26 January – 23 February 2009

  • installation of traffic lights and pedestrian islands
  • re-surfacing of the road
  • installation of new road markings

Regular scheme updates will be posted on the County Council’s website

The Oxfordshire Highways Enquiry Line is 0845 310 1111