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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.


Report abandoned shopping trolleys here!

Oxford City Council is now offering an online reporting service to further speed up the reporting of abandoned trolleys.

An online  form can be used to report abandoned trolleys within the city 24 hours a day at a time that is convenient to residents.  The forms go directly to Trolley Collection Services Ltd who are funded by local supermarkets to collect trolleys on their behalf.

Here is a link to the new reporting form 

Applications for small grants

This is a reminder to anyone involved in voluntary and community groups that there is still time to bid for grants of up to and including £15,000 from Oxford City Council. The closing date for grant applications is 21 November

There is a lengthy form to fill in if your group wishes to apply for a grant. Please contact Oxfordshire Community Voluntary Action (OCVA) for details on 01865 251946 or email

Bidding is open for the following projects so long as they are not the primary responsibility of another statutory agency, not provided by another agency, and not funded significantly by another agency:

  • local cultural, recreational and sporting projects, particularly for disadvantaged groups
  • projects which protect and enhance Oxford’s built and natural environment
  • training and skills projects aimed at areas of deprivation
  • projects supporting people living on low incomes

The criteria under which you can apply for grants are really tightly set. I’ve been to a training workshop on how these grants are allocated and have used the criteria to assess an application. If you want advice or guidance on filling in the form, please don’t hesitate to contact me! (click on contact us in the left hand menu bar for my contact details)

Poppies: red or white?

A festival of remembrance will be held tomorrow in St Giles at 10.45 am. This is a very important day for so many who lost members of their families in action and it will be a very moving ceremony. There will be a march past the War memorial by units from the armed forces, by scouts and guides, by the Red Cross and St John Ambulance Society and the Royal British Legion among others.

I have a real personal dilemma at this time of the year. I am profoundly saddened by the loss of life suffered in battle to preserve the freedoms of our country, and I want to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to help others.

But I fundamentally believe that security can be achieved without violence, and that all human life is of equal worth. There are many alternative ways to resolve conflicting interests, and we need to educate our generation in the ways of peace. The Lib Dems opposed the war in Iraq, and let us hope that the troops are recalled home as quickly as possible


So should I wear a white poppy or a red one? Or both? I have one of each, and I have been wearing a white poppy at work this week to support the Peace Pledge Union Yet I know that some people would be very offended if I were to attend tomorrow’s Remembrance Day service wearing a white poppy as well as a red one to commemorate those who died.

I would be interested to hear your views.

Design of bus shelters

We have had some enquiries about the new bus shelters. These are normally a standard size.
The new bus shelters in London Road in the area around Latimer Road are both
“Mark 1” shelters, which makes them more solid than many other shelters
across the city (i.e. offering more protection than more basic shelters
which are open on 3 sides).

Officers advise us that rain generally comes from a south-west direction. So if a shelter faces south west, it is possible that when it rains, people will get wet even if they’re standing in a shelter. If you think any of the new shelters are letting in the rain, rather than offering protection against the elements, please let us know!

Octabus Dial-a-ride service

Elderly residents have been talking to David and me about the Octabus Dial-a-Ride service that operates with a subsidy from the County Council. Here is a link to a leaflet which will tell you more about this service.

It is operated by Walter’s Limousines out of Forest Hill, it costs £3 for membership (which includes vouchers for two free single journeys) and it’s a door-to-door service for those who are unable to use, or find it difficult to use, public transport due to disability or infirmity.  Those with concessionary bus passes travel free, and so do their escorts, but you’re not allowed to use it for journeys to the hospital or to a County Council-run social centre – that’s because there are other transport schemes to cover this.

Do contact David or me if you experience any difficulties in ordering journeys as we want to monitor how over-subscribed this service is getting

Oxford City Centre plans

We know there is a lot of interest and speculation about the County Council’s ideas to pedestrianise the centre of Oxford, and there have been a lot of hits on our previous post which summarises a briefing given to City Councillors by the County Leader and his Cabinet member for Transport

There’s been nothing tangible to report on this since then, but there is a lot of political to-ing and fro-ing behind the scenes. The chief concerns reported to us from our residents are that the east of the City would effectively be cut off from the rest under the Tory plans, and people who live in Headington and commute regularly to London are extremely concerned about the implications of the scheme for the Oxford-London bus route. David and I are speaking to the top people at both major bus companies and to bus users but cannot report back at present until more details are known.

There are also big concerns about the lack of identified cycle routes in the new scheme, but it would be fair to say that most people would ideally like to see the middle of Oxford pedestrianised, and this is something that Lib Dems would be keen to look at (and have done so many times over recent years).

Like most new ideas, some of what is suggested is worth consideration, and other parts of it appear to be unworkable. Please do contact David and me with your views; we would be interested in any alternative suggestions residents may have for maintaining the current quality of bus services between London, Headington and Oxford whilst reducing the number of buses passing through the City Centre itself.

Please press the comment button above to record your views, or by all means email David or me at:

Royal Mail doublespeak?

The 2008 Key Customer Update from Royal Mail has provoked some interest from political commentators, including Mark Pack. One passage states

Within the next 5 years, by the end of 2010, we want to have identified all significant sources of water leaks within site boundaries and taken steps to mitigate them.


Within the next ten years, by the end of 2015 we want to recycle all water that we use outside of normal personal use.

This seems to defy the laws of mathematics
Another phrase that I can’t quite get my head around is:

We have decided to re-phase the deployment of Walk Sequencing so as to better align all our programme activities. This will ensure the right technical, operational and deployment approaches are in place, to enable a smooth and effective migration, where the changes are embedded and sustained.

Perhaps we should encourage the wordsmiths to get out on the streets in Headington and deliver some parcels before 9.00 am?!

FAQ: do builders need RPZ permits?

We have been asked several times about whether or not builders are allowed to park their vans in areas controlled by Residents’ Parking Zones without permits.  I had always assumed that everyone needed a permit but this is not so – here’s a response I’ve just received from the County Highways Dept.

There is a possibility for construction firms to be able to park against the regulations in some areas and for certain reasons. They must show a need for their vehicle to be parked there and not just used for bringing tools and equipment to the site, working and then loading the tools and equipment and going home. If a vehicle is not seen to be required apart from travel to and from, the permission would be revoked. We have to consider the area and the residents. Eventually there will be a Traders Permit that will come into place which will be chargeable and can be used for such instances as above.

So now we know!