People power works (for now)!

A start of a year and a chill has set in, both in the economy and in the weather. But there are some things to celebrate — and one small one comes with 2009 ushering in ‘The End’ of one of last year’s less happy sagas.

You may remember that the Labour City Council proposed to centralise planning decisions away from local communities, without even consulting those communities. It was hardly a surprise: Labour had been saying for some time that centralised is more ‘efficient’, and that local decision-making was poor decision-making that must not be allowed. I’ve picked apart their arguments before; the point is that, whatever the weaknesses of their claims, the way they presented them was, to be frank, woefully handled. The debate at the Town Hall  was no fine display of oratory and, as the Oxford Mail reported, nearly ended in farce — Labour lost a key vote, but a final resolution was not reached, leaving the question simply undecided.

So, it was expected that there would be a re-run of the debate at next Council on 19th January. The item is on the agenda but I heard this week that Labour have decided to accept common sense: the status quo will continue, and local planning decision-making is saved.

This is a victory both for common sense and for local people — for those who bothered to write or to phone their councillors, and especially those who took the effort to come to the Town Hall and express their concerns. To those who did: thank you.

But we should not be naive enough to think this is the definitive end, with no possible sequel. There is an engrained attitude in Labour that is suspicious of decision-making away from the Town Hall, where they fear they can not control it. It may well be that we’ll find that this particular vampire, through whose heart we thought we’d thrust a stake, might walk again. Perhaps, but at least for now local decision-making is safe.

Statement from neighbourhood police

We are aware that there is public concern following the recent spate of
robberies in the Headington area. This is extremely unusual for
Headington which as we know is usually a relatively low crime area. We
would like all the residents to know that we as a Neighbourhood team are
working extremely hard along with CID and other departments to
investigate these crimes and provide reassurance to the public. I would
like to urge anyone who has any information regarding these offences to
contact us on 0845 8 505 505.
Neighbourhood Sergeant – Headington North
Cowley Police Station

Water Watch latest

I have been pleased with the improving response to residents’ problems with sewage and clean water enquiries over the last three months, particularly by Peter Claridge of Thames Water who has worked hard to resolve outstanding difficulties.

There are, however, two big multi-agency problems which remain unresolved and which will require representatives from various agencies like the City, the County, the Environment Agency, and Thames Water, among others to sort them out.  There is a multi-agency committee at which these issues can be raised and this is chaired by John Copley, the Head of Environmental Development.  I have made an appointment with him and my colleague Cllr Altaf Khan for 27 January to discuss progress and/or action  in Brookside and Northway.  If you know of any other problems of continuing flooding or water contamination in your area please contact David or me – just click on Contact us on centre toolbar

Police update on incident at Lloyds TSB

*UPDATE 7/1/09*  Our neighbourhood police inspector will attend the next area committee meeting on 20 January to report on the level of crime in the Headington area

Thames Valley Police Press Release 6/1/09: Armed robbery – Headington

Police are appealing for witnesses following an armed robbery in Headington yesterday (5/1).At around 5.05pm, a man walked into Lloyds bank, London Road, just as it was closing and ran behind the counter and demanded money.

He is white and was wearing camouflage trousers and a jacket with a grey hooded top and had his face covered.

Det Insp Simon Morton, leading the investigation, said: “The offender was carrying what was described as a white Uzi gun, which the staff did not believe was genuine.

“He got away with around £1,000 in cash and made off on a bicycle.

“We are linking this incident to two armed robberies at Betfred in London Road on Monday 29 December and Saturday (3/1) and two others at Threshers in Old High Street on Monday 29 December and Sunday (4/1).

“Do you recognise a man of this description? Were you in Headington yesterday and saw a man acting suspiciously? Do you think you know who is responsible for these robberies? If you do, please contact police immediately.

“I would like to reassure the public that we have got a team of detectives working on this series of armed robberies to identify the person responsible.”

Anyone with information that could assist police enquiries is urged to contact Det Insp Morton via Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 0845 8 505 505. If you don’t want to speak to police and don’t want to leave your name contact the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

Community safety issues in Headington

We are aware that residents have concerns about the recent incidents at Threshers, Betfred and Lloyds TSB.

Headington is a friendly, welcoming and safe place for people to live, work and shop and it’s a shame that the activities of certain individuals have given rise to some anxiety in the community and in the press.

We are working closely with the neighbourhood police to ensure that they are giving these incidents high priority, and we hope to release a statement from the neighbourhood inspector on our website soon. We will post up details of progress on this site as we receive them, and are working hard to ensure that the situation gets back to normal as soon as possible.

Tree management in the City

We’re often asked questions about the way in which trees are managed in our ward, and particularly in Bury Knowle Park, so I have asked for a copy of the City’s operational policy on managing trees under City control and posted it onto a page called Tree policy in the centre toolbar for your information.  Hope you find it useful!

Are your ward councillors effective?

An interesting question! And we’d be curious to hear your answers!

Every four months, David and I analyse all the casework we have been doing in the ward, and we check off the work we have done against the roads in our ‘patch’.  This confirms to us whether or not the work we do on your behalf is carried out principally in some areas of Headington, rather than in others.

When we analysed our casework for the months from May to August, we found that few residents from one area of the ward had contacted us for help or advice.  We prioritised that area of the ward for an early street surgery which was very successful and led to a second walkabout in the locality. We are delighted that many of the people we spoke to in the St. Anne’s Road/Margaret Road/Rock Edge/Gathorne Road area have now volunteered to start up a new residents’ group, and we are helping them set this up.

In the last four months we have noticed an upturn in workload from the areas where we held street surgeries, so these events have been successful in raising people’s awareness of who we are and what we do.  We intend to continue with these, and one area we would like to focus on in the forthcoming four months is New Headington.

If you would like a copy of our workload breakdown by roads in the ward, please contact us and we will send you a copy

Am I being watched?

A number of people have asked questions about the surveillance that is carried out by City Council Officers on members of the public under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and our Lib Dem colleague representing Barton, Chris Scanlan, has been pressing for a statement on this.  I thought you might be interested in this response from the appropriate officer in the Legal and Democratic Services department:

For your information the Council has authorised directed surveillance on 24 occasions since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) came into force. The Act came into force in October 2000. Of those 24 authorisations 6 related to benefit fraud investigations, 13 related to anti-social behaviour/crime & disorder investigations and 5 related to internal disciplinary investigations.

None of the above include investigations into littering, dog fouling or any of the other minor offences, which have made the press in recent months. Over a period of 8 years I think it is fair to say that the Council has used these powers very sparingly.

Under the Council’s current RIPA policy and procedure (which is available on the Council’s website) I receive a copy of each authorisation. If I felt that the Act was being used inappropriately or that the ‘necessity and proportionality’ test had not been applied then I would intervene and require the investigating officer and the authorising officer to justify their actions.

If you have any queries or concerns about this, just hit the Comment? button or email David or me directly (see Contact us in left hand tool bar for details). 

Priority roads for building work in the next financial year

The following is a list of all the roads in the ward that City Works have advised need repairs and maintenance, and they are grouped in order of priority.  Don’t forget that the major roads like the London Road will not feature in this list as their repairs and maintenance are looked after directly by the County Council’s Highways Dept. I hope I haven’t missed any, it’s a very long list to scan for Headington road names!

These Estimates present the City Council’s proposed programme of works for carrying out in the year 2009-2010.The threshold for Assessed Maintenance schemes has been set at £6,000 by the County Council, so all complete schemes below this figure are funded from the General Maintenance estimates. The aggregate value of work within a street on the Named Schemes list will exceed £6,000 even if the value of any type of work in a street is less. The Estimates are prioritized according to need. Priorities are based on the following parameters:-

  1. Urgent work required to carry out structural repairs to eliminate an existing hazard.

  2. Medium priority structural repairs to prevent the occurrence of hazards

  3. Lower priority schemes to protect the structure from deterioration

Highways Act, 1990, Part IV, Section 42, Schedule 7 estimate Named Schemes (sorted by priority) Priorities 1,2 and 3 are collected and presented as named schemesPriority 9 is applied to works not achieving the £6,000 threshold.  

Street (Section) Description of work Value of work (£) 

Priority 1

  • BEECH ROAD Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 4,087.65
  • BEECH ROAD Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 4,448.32
  • BEECH ROAD Footway overlay 2,485.54
  • BEECH ROAD Footway overlay 2,284.01
  • BEECH ROAD Carriageway plane and resurface 13,296.63
  • GATHORNE ROAD Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 8,912.68
  • LARKINS LANE Carriageway heavy patching 1,195.67
  • LARKINS LANE Lift stone kerbs and relay with 30% new stone kerbs 8,790.71
  • OSLER ROAD Footway reconstruction 57,865.85 

Priority 2

  • FORTNAM CLOSE Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 2,244.20
  • FORTNAM CLOSE Footway overlay 1,603.52
  • FRANKLIN ROAD Carriageway concrete joint seal 683.24
  • FRANKLIN ROAD Carriageway macadam overlay of concrete 5,270.70
  • FRANKLIN ROAD Carriageway plane and resurface 25,062.91
  • FRANKLIN ROAD Footway overlay 13,542.84
  • GATHORNE ROAD Carriageway plane and resurface 10,133.75
  • HORWOOD CLOSE Carriageway plane and resurface 12,794.87
  • LATIMER ROAD Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 8,616.12
  • LATIMER ROAD Footway reconstruction 11,519.59
  • LATIMER ROAD Footway reconstruction 11,787.48
  • LATIMER ROAD Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 8,816.50
  • MARGARET ROAD Footway overlay 6,737.04
  • MARGARET ROAD Footway overlay 5,906.71
  • NEW HIGH STREET Carriageway plane and resurface 48,219.13
  • OLD HIGH STREET Carriageway Plane and resurface with minor patching 28,547.46
  • OLD HIGH STREET Footway overlay 1,275.75
  • OLD HIGH STREET (SW side and shops layby) Footway overlay 7,669.04
  • OLD ROAD (upper) Footway reconstruction 130,133.90
  • OLD ROAD (upper) Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 43,601.60
  • PIPER STREET Footway reconstruction 8,915.62
  • PIPER STREET Carriageway plane and resurface 3,727.36
  • STAUNTON ROAD Footway reconstruction 74,068.28
  • STEPHEN ROAD Carriageway plane and resurface 23,855.10
  • WINDSOR STREET  Carriageway plane and resurface 6,531.83
  • WINDSOR STREET Footway reconstruction 6,978.19 

Priority 3

  • BARRINGTON CLOSE Carriageway macadam overlay of concrete 9,504.54
  • BARRINGTON CLOSE Carriageway concrete joint seal 1,268.88
  • BICKERTON ROAD Footway overlay 2,505.51
  • BICKERTON ROAD Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 8,295.52
  • BICKERTON ROAD Footway overlay 7,523.80
  • BICKERTON ROAD Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 8,295.52
  • BROOKSIDE Carriageway plane and resurface 21,575.67
  • CUCKOO LANE FP 320/034 Footway overlay 8,523.10
  • ETHELRED COURT Carriageway plane and resurface 13,762.56
  • FORTNAM CLOSE Carriageway plane and resurface 14,515.20
  • FORTNAM CLOSE Carriageway concrete joint seal 627.47
  • GATHORNE ROAD Footway reconstruction 31,710.48
  • KENNETT ROAD Footway overlay 9,954.27
  • LAUREL FARM CLOSE Footway Deep clean of block paving and reseal 7,071.60
  • PERRIN STREET  Carriageway plane and resurface 16,138.75
  • STAPLETON ROAD Footway overlay 8,279.08
  • STAPLETON ROAD Footway overlay 1,379.84
  • STAUNTON ROAD (Headley Way to Woodlands Road)  Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 34,624.80
  • YORK ROAD Footway overlay 4,456.06
  • YORK ROAD Carriageway plane and resurface 8,246.55
  • YORK ROAD Footway overlay 2,965.46 

Priority 9

  • ALL SAINTS ROAD Footway overlay 2075.82  Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 1963.67
    BATEMAN STREET   Lift kerbs and lay new kerbs 2364.42 
    Footway overlay 714.13
  • CECIL SHARP PLACE Footway Deep clean of block paving and reseal 5438.16
  • CUCKOO LANE FP 320/035 Osler Road to Old High Street  Footway Overlay 2440.15
  • FP 320/036 (BURY KNOWLE PATH) North Place to London Road Footway overlay 4988.75
    GARDINER STREET  Footway overlay 519.25
  • LATIMER GRANGE Lift slab footway and reconstruct in macadam 1832.20
  • NORTH PLACE Footway stone slabs lift and relay 3971.60
  • NORTON CLOSE Footway overlay 2736.69
  • NURSERY CLOSE Footway overlay 1653.88
  • ST. ANDREWS LANE Carriageway heavy patching 5480.20
  • ST. ANDREWS ROAD  Footway Lift pitched stone footway and relay  1750.00
  • ST. ANNE’S ROAD Drainage gullies reconstruction  3142.62
  • WILBERFORCE STREET  Footway overlay 561.62
  • WILLIAM ORCHARD CLOSE Lift slab footway and lay modular paving 5461.93
  • WOODLANDS CLOSE Footway overlay 5523.26

Improving Oxford City homes – latest update

Oxford City Homes Tenants and Leaseholders may be interested to click on this link to find out about the progress of the homes improvement work plan. Click on the link to the Homes Improvement Works Plan edition 2 December 2008 to access a document which tells you what work will be carried out in OCH homes in different areas of Oxford. In our ward, properties in the following roads are included:

  • Bury Knowle House
  • Gardiner Street
  • Headley Way
  • Laurel Farm Close
  • London Road
  • Mattock Close
  • New High Street
  • North Place
  • Old Road
  • Stephen Road
  • York Road

If you think your property should have been included in this work list, then telephone 0800 227676 to ask why it’s been missed out.