Lib Dem budget proposals honour their promises

UK Money - notes and coins

At the Oxford City Council budget debate on Monday, the Liberal Democrat group will propose a set of amendments intended to honour undertakings to community groups which the Labour administration’s proposals have abandoned.

Deputy Leader Stephen Brown says: “We find it unacceptable that Labour should let down those in the city who are most in need of help in these difficult times. The users of our community centres, those in fuel poverty and other financial hardship, and those in fear of crime, are not getting the help from Labour that they deserve. Instead, Labour is proposing a stonking 4.5% increase in Council Tax, which will hit those on low incomes hardest.”

Added Cllr Brown: “Last year, the Lib Dems proposed an increase in council tax of 2% for the financial year 2009/10, and we still think that is the right level. We also want to see the council honour its promises to repair the Covered Market, to keep the Museum of Oxford open, and to maintain area grants for the many valuable community initiatives. We also want to correct the serious effects of new business rates on community centres, and to cancel cuts in the budgets for Street Wardens and Social Inclusion initiatives which Labour wants to make.”

Proposals include cutting the amount of savings that the Museum of Oxford must make next year; this would allow more time for a Trust to be set up to ensure that the Museum has a long term future. This has been an issue that has generated much concern from residents in our Ward.

No single Party has a majority on Oxford City Council. The Labour group is the largest and runs a minority administration, but the combined votes of the opposition parties in council can prevent their budget being adopted. The Liberal Democrat amendments will be debated along with proposals from the Green group at a full council meeting starting at 5 p.m. on Monday 16th February in the Town Hall. Members of the public are welcome to attend

Useful websites

People often ask us questions about who to report things to, or how to find out what’s going on in the area. It’s certainly worth trying oout the following web pages if you haven’t already

Fix My Street is a sort of (non-party) online casework service. The site encourages people to register their local issues, and then monitor how, when and by who they’re fixed by.

Enter your postcode (or a postcode in the middle of the ward you represent) and you’ll get a list of issues in your local area. You can also sign up for email alerts every time someone enters a new issue.

Planning Alerts
planningalerts has been around on a trial basis for a little while now – its pretty straight-forward: give your postcode and email address and in return you get news of planning applications by email. The email alerts seem to be comprehensive and complement the ones offered by the City council. It covers 315 local authorities at the moment.

Write to Them
Another website from the same people as Fix My Street is  Enter the postcode in your ward, and hopefully you should come up with the details of your city councillors, county councillors and MP

Further consultation on 20mph limits for Oxford

People are to be asked for their views on where 20mph speed limits
should go in Oxford as the county council starts a consultation
exercise on February 12.

In Autumn 2008, the people of Oxford were asked what they thought
about the idea of introducing 20mph speed limits in the city.
Two-thirds of people who responded were positive about the idea.

The county council now wants to know what people think of the detailed
plans in terms of which roads are to be included in the proposal and
which should remain excluded.

The proposals recommend that 20mph limits could be introduced in 2009 on:

Minor roads within the city including outlying areas such as Sandhills
Un-numbered through roads except where they are part of heavily-used
bus routes into the city, for example the section of Blackbird Leys
Road (north west of Balfour Road) and Barns Road (except for the
section immediately adjoining Between Towns Road), and Old Abingdon
Some sections of the main A roads and the B road network where there
are busy shopping areas, for example the London Road through Oxford
Brookes University/Headington and on parts of the B4495 through Temple

There are already a number of 20mph zones and limits in Oxford and
these would be incorporated into the wider project. The area of the
city centre that would be covered by the 20mph limit would be expanded

Radial routes such as:

Abingdon Road
Banbury Road (either side of Summertown)
Woodstock Road
Botley Road beyond Abbey Road
London Road either side of Brookes/Headington Shops
Iffley Road beyond Temple Street

would NOT be included.

Routes around the city such as:

the ring road
Oxpens Road/Thames Street
Marston Ferry Road
Donnington Bridge Road

would also NOT be part of the limit.
The Botley, Cumnor and North Hinksey areas will NOT be part of any
20mph plans with people from those areas having already stated that
they do not want to be part of the proposal.

The introduction of 20mph speed limits, which are designed to be
self-enforcing, can reduce accident levels, especially when associated
with traffic-calming measures. The 20mph limit would encourage more
walking and cycle trips and bring associated health benefits.

Consultation officially begins on February 12 and runs until March 5 .
You can find out more and have your say by:

Going to your local library in Oxford, viewing information about the
plans and filling in a response form. Participating libraries are
Blackbird Leys Cowley, Headington, Central Oxford and Summertown. The
same information will be available at receptions in County Hall and
the county council’s Speedwell Street headquarters.
Visiting Oxfordshire County Council’s website at and filling in the same form.
Writing to the county council at Oxfordshire County Council, 20 Limit
Consultation, Speedwell House, Speedwell Street, FREEPOST OF260,
Oxford, OX1 1BR .

Waitrose building plans

I had a meeting on site yesterday with a representative from Waitrose and three officers from the City Council to discuss the building works which will take place in April. The Project Manager for the re-fit is Mark Sharkey and I have his contact details; he managed the Asda refit in Wheatley and has practical working experience with some of the sub-contracters on this project.

It was agreed that 30 car park spaces would be cordoned off for use by the Waitrose construction team for storing materials and for skips. Work vehicles will have sole use of the entrance nearest the London Road junction (next to the Audio shop) for access to the site. This will leave the main entrance accessible to the public. There will be a crane on site while they are working on the roof of the building. Cycle parking will be moved elsewhere on site during the re-fit as a temporary measure. Two trees that currently overhang the building are considered a hazard and will be trimmed back by the Parks Dept.

Waitrose are keen to relocate the recycling bins on the far side of the car park near the wall with Bury Knowle Park, this has also been suggested by residents. We are asking the City Works Dept. to advise us on the most suitable location.

Signage will be put up and Waitrose will re-line the car park at the end of the project. It is recognised that the lighting in the car park isn’t very good, Waitrose will paint the lamp posts in corporate colours (black and silver).


It is likely that the project will run from 9/4/09-30/4/09
1 month before the start date, Waitrose will write to those in neighbouring properties, explaining what will happen and when, and giving contact details of the site manager and project manager

6/4/09-8/4/09 Allowed on site (busy traffic, setting up huts etc)
8/4/09 Last day of trading for Somerfield’s
9/4/09 Ownership transferred to Waitrose
16/4/09 Real work starts


We have specified that that noise is kept to a minimum (they are working 24/7) and also that that they should not be using noisy equipment after 20.00. They will keep the doors closed at all times while work is going on. The power will be taken off as part of the re-fit so there will be use of generators, the project manager is sourcing the quietest ones he can find.

Shoppers’ tickets

The officer in charge of car parks at the City is negotiating terms with Waitrose concerning ‘shoppers’ tickets’ i.e. a discount on parking for those who buy goods at Waitrose. More on this later!


I understand that it is Waitrose policy to retain staff from the existing Somerfields’ store, at least for twelve months, during which time they will have the opportunity to attend staff training courses and may be retained on a permanent basis after that date.


I don’t have the detailed plans yet but it would seem that there is a space allocated to on-site bakery!

St Aldate’s customer services centre closed due to snow

The St Aldates chambers customer service centre has had to be closed this morning due to the adverse weather. There is a notice on the door giving telephone contact numbers and there is a free phone in the lobby so that queries can be dealt with by phone.

They have called all customers ( where they have given a telephone number) who had made an appointment for meetings today. They have been offered alternative appointments or referred to Templars Square one stop shop which remains open and is being staffed by three officers .

There are currently eleven customer service staff and  phone lines at the telephone contact centre were open from 9.30am . The sites will close at 16.30  in order that staff can get home safely, this time may be brought forward now that bus services have been suspended.  Probably best to ring before you go!

Response from Royal Mail about parcel delivery complaints

 I passed on various comments from local residents to the Delivery Centre manager at Ledgers lane, here is his response in full

I hope you are well sorry that it has taken so long to reply but things
have been extremely hectic here due to an increase in short term SL that we
were experiencing. This has led to managers being out on delivery until
quite late in the evening again to try and ensure that we met with delivery
specification. However I have got some good news in that our recent
recruitment campaigns have paid off and we now have 7 new members of staff
in post who should be fully trained up within the next 2 -3 weeks, this
will obviously reduce the amount of late deliveries that some of our
customers have been experiencing.

With regards to your enquiries please see below:

Packets for delivery to the majority of Headington deliveries should be
back in the office within 24 hours of the card being left. We have had some
issues where items have taken longer than this due to the deliveries being
completed on OT in the afternoon and as such the collections that bring the
mail back to the unit from the post office have already happened before the
items have been brought back to the pouching off point. However this should
be resolved in part by the new entrants and the reduction in need of
utilising OT for delivery coverage. We also still have a couple of people
who have been putting 48 hours on the card for safety sake, by this i mean
that they don’t want their customers to come to the office and the item not
being here.

Another of the issues raised was that some residents were told that they
could collect their parcels within 5 hours of the card left. The time left
for collection will depend on the method of delivery and where the delivery
is. For example most of the East Oxford deliveries come back to the office
once they have completed and subsequently bring the items straight back.
Further more if the items were large packets and delivered by a van then
these to come back to the unit and thus a shorter collection time will be
offered.With regards to the Headington deliveries these do tend to finish
at their last delivery point and this leads to the packets being returned
to the post office and sent back to us via the normal collection route
which is why the delay occurs.

I would be extremely surprised if the staff chose to just leave a card for
an item without trying. The simple reason for this is that it takes longer
to write out a card than it does to deliver the items in the majority of
occasions. It is possible that the wrong time has been placed on the card
or that the customer was in a part of the house where they could not hear
the door. I would state however that the guys cannot spend very long
waiting at each door as it would be impossible for them to finish. During
the Christmas period our parcel traffic increased dramatically and this led
to an increase in work load for the staff and would also reduce the amount
of time that they could spend at each door. That said i still feel that the
majority of staff would have left a reasonable amount of time for the
customer to answer.

Parking is an ongoing issue with the site and i am also aware or the issues
that you other customer had in which they were fined for parking on the
road outside of the unit. With regards to parking on the road outside i
believe that this allowed as it is a public highway and the only yellow
lines are to the side of the building. I have heard that the company that
are responsible for parking control of the actual units are known to be a
bit to enthusiastic on occasion. As i have already stated it is my
understanding that people are allowed to park on the road.

With regards to the parking bays they are often full first thing in the
morning. A large percentage of our staff utilise their cars on delivery and
they park there vehicles in this area so they can load them with mail. I
will have a look to see if we can free up set of bays for customer parking
only which should relieve this problem. I will also raise this with the CWU
representative this morning in our strategic liaison meeting.

With regards to the black Multipla this is one of my managers cars – he has
to park on site as we often need to go out and visit staff etc at short
notice. Further more due to a H&S order we have limited space to park at
the rear of the building.

I think that if we can free up the first set of bays for our customers that
this should reduce this problem significantly. I would also like to add
however that we have had occasions where people have been parking in our
bays that are nothing to do with us and this also unfortunately reduces the
amount of space for our customers.

Closure of part of Cuckoo Lane

Part of the footpath in Cuckoo Lane has been closed temporarily for safety reasons while an unstable wall to the rear of Headington House is being repaired to prevent further collapse.  This part of the footpath from the junction of Osler Road to the junction of Stephen Road will be closed for three weeks from 2/2/09

Want advice on planning?

Planning Aid provides free, independent and professional town planning
advice and support to communities and individuals who cannot afford to
pay planning consultant fees. It complements the work of local
planning authorities, but is wholly independent of them. 

Planning Aid can help people to:

Understand and use the planning system
Participate in preparing plans
Prepare their own plans for the future of their community
Comment on planning applications
Apply for planning permission or appeal against refusal of permission
Represent themselves at public inquiries.
Planning Aid helps to meet one of the key aims of the government’s
planning reform agenda, which is to place community engagement at the
heart of the planning system.

The up and coming Planning Aid South information evening will offer an
opportunity for the public to come and meet staff and volunteers to
find out what planning help they can give members of the public and residents’ associations

It’s on Wed 11 February at 6 p.m.
Planning Aid South, 3 Woodins Way, Paradise Street, Oxford OX1 1HD

Click here to see their website