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Bus services in Headington

David and I had a meeting with Martin Sutton from Stagecoach yesterday evening where we aired the issues you wanted to raise  relating to bus services in Headington. Here’s our report back to you.

  • Buses from Headington to Summertown

Many of you have raised the issue of there not being a direct bus to and from Summertown. We have raised this, in particular suggesting a direct route, without going through the city centre, which would also have the advantaged of helping the residents on the top half of Headley Way to have a bus service again. Martin Sutton told us they have looked into this before and gave a guarantee that Stagecoach would look at this again.

In discussing this and other issues, he clarified some of the economics as Stagecoach see them. They calculate that each bus on the road costs c£180K a year to run, this equates to c£38 per hour, though clearly different types of buses incur different costs. They take as the key indicator for performance is the “average operating speed” of the bus – the higher this is, the higher the cost of the service. The average operating speed of the bus should ideally be between 12 and 18 mph. The average operating speed of the no. 10 has been recorded as low as 8 mph but its usage has improved since the service became more frequent.

  • No 10 bus route

On this, it’s fair to say, there was not a meeting of minds. We explained our long-held concerns about buses going down Osler Rd, causing problems for residents and cyclists, while Headley Way, where residents need a bus, goes unserved. Martin said that previous figures had suggested very few people got on a bus on Headley Way, while taking the bus into the JR by Osler Rd was seen as essential to that service (even though, in our experience, very few people actually use that particular stretch). We’ve heard all that before but what we did get was an agreement that we will be provided with the passenger statistics for this (and other) routes. We have asked for ‘before and after’ figures with reference to the introduction of the National Bus Pass scheme. Residents have also told us that weekend U10 buses on the section from Headley Way to the JR are underused.

  • London buses through Headington

This is a contentious issue locally: some residents have expressed the view that London buses should be re-routed so that they do not run through Headington; others are equally adamant that this bus service is one of the reasons to live in the area. We asked for information about the importance to Stagecoach of having a Headington stop. The latest figures suggest that nearly a quarter of passengers get on the London-bound Oxford Tube between St Clements and London Road  (60% of  passengers have boarded by the time buses reach the Plain, and 83% of passengers have boarded by the time buses reach the London Road roundabout). Clearly, the bus companies would be very reluctant to re-route their buses away from Headington.  What we need to focus on is making sure that they don’t block up the roads, as they sometimes do with the present road layout and some selfish parking by van-drivers.

  • Bays on London Road

Our residents in Windmill Road had asked if the designated bus and taxi parking lanes could be swapped over to make it easier for buses to pull in next to Iceland without having to overtake vehicles. Martin is going to consult his staff about this. This was a helpful meeting for all of us, and we hope to meet again for further discussion.

  • Other useful information

The bus company currently appealing the sum reimbursed to it by the City Council for passengers who are travelling with concessionary passes as part of the National Bus Pass scheme. If the rate of reimbursement is low, there is little incentive for bus companies to extend services in areas where there is a higher percentage of older passengers who use this scheme.

It is possible for bus companies to change routes and times of services providing they give 56 days’ notice to the County Council. It is possible for the County Council to write a condition into a contract for a subsidised route that can enforce two bus companies to tender fares in such a way that a joint ticket scheme can be administered, but problems can arise if the contracts for each of the two companies have separate expiry dates or if the ticket machines on the buses are not of a similar type.

In conclusion, the meeting provided a useful discussion and some helpful information. More importantly, it is part of an on-going dialogue where Stagecoach is left in no doubt of local feeling. We will work to make sure this achieves improvements for local residents over the longer term.

Street Surgery in Old Headington

Many thanks to all who came to our street surgery in Old High Street on Tuesday evening, we learned a great deal about the issues that concern the residents in that area, including cycle routes, concerns about poorly maintained properties, gardens, hedges and trees, interest in a new Friends of Bury Knowle Park group, the need for a noticeboard at the entrance to The Croft, speeding, the no. 10 bus route and traffic hold-ups in Osler Road, the need to re-design the entrance/exit at Somerfields, and the licencing conditions of local public houses.

The nights are beginning to draw in now, so an excellent suggestion has been made to hold a forthcoming street surgery in a local hostelry.  Watch this space for details!

York Road improvements

York Road residents showed us the poor pavement surfaces in their road when David, Roz and I held our site inspection there recently.  We have good news to report!  We asked the City Council engineering team to assess the problem for us and they confirmed today that improvement work will be done on the stretch of pavement from nos. 4-34 later on this week.  Together we have made it happen – thanks to all residents for your feedback!

Ticket to ride? Stagecoach bus services

We have a meeting with Martin Sutton of Stagecoach on Wednesday evening and we are hoping to raise a number of issues that have been reported to us by residents in our ward. If you have any specific concerns, please contact us (see left hand toolbar for details)

Issues so far include:

the number 10 service – change of route from Headley Way to Osler Road, whether some services should turn round at Cowley Centre, safety of cyclists and other road users in Osler Road and the lack of space for queuing at the Windmill Road bus stop (the latter is not an easy problem to solve);

the frequency of Brookes buses at weekends and in vacation;

the possible issue of joint-provider scholars’ tickets;

the resurrection of a through service from Headington to Summertown;

a possible switch of designated taxi and bus spaces outside Iceland

and more..

All views welcomed, including positive comments – I know some people have said how pleased they are with the buggy-friendly and disabled-friendly service provided by Stagecoach and we will make sure to mention this!

New Disabled Persons’ Parking Places

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The County Council has given notice that it intends to provide additional disabled persons’ parking places and confirms others at the following locations in our ward. If you want to see the proposals in full, please consult them at Bury Knowle Library. The closing date for observations/comments is Friday 10 October, and they need to be sent to Mike Ruse, Traffic Regulation Officer, at Speedwell House, Speedwell Street, Oxford, OX1 1NE tel 01865 815700 email: mike.ruse@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Outside no. 13 Gathorne Road

Outside 70 Lime Walk

Outside no. 102 Lime Walk

Outside 8 Norton Close

ALSO

Old High Street – west side; from a point 2om north of a point opposite the southern kerb line of North Place, northwards for a distance of 6.6m. At the southern end of the residents’ parking bay

Sandfield Road – North-east side; from a point 60m north-west of the north-western kerb line of London Road, northwards for a distance of 6m

At times like this, I wish I possessed a compass!

 

 

 

 

 

Ward walkabout with City Officers

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This afternoon, I walked round the social housing areas in the ward with officers from Oxford City Homes, City Works and the Area Co-ordinator to identify areas that need maintenance or upgrading. Here is one area we found in Mattocks Close, and we have asked the Works Dept to submit quotes for levelling this pavement to City Homes so that it can be upgraded. If you would like more details of this site inspection, please hit the comment button or contact us for more information.

Below is a picture of North Place, David and I have asked OCH to tell us when the properties will be double glazed, and we have asked them to investigate internal noise reduction too

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Outcome of White Hart Application

Some of you might remember the White Hart’s licensing application to be able to use its garden for smokers. There has now been a decision on it, allowing the use but with limits placed on it. Specifically, the conditions are:

  • The garden area shall not be used after 2300 hours except for patrons wanting to smoke in the designated smoking area. Drinks shall not be taken outside the premises by customers using the designated smoking area after 23.00 hours. 
  • The designated smoking area after 23:00hrs shall be used by no more than 10 persons at any one time.

This is certainly a compromise solution. It’s to be hoped that it works for everyone involved, both residents and those using the pub. If any issues do arise, please do drop Ruth or myself a line and, as always, we’ll get onto it.

Oxford Mail exclusive on the London Road lights

Residents may like to see the Oxford Mail coverage of our endeavours to get the crossing lights repaired in London Road, which was featured in our earlier post.

David and I would like to thank the Oxford Mail for helping us resolve this long-running issue, and also say a big thank you to Len and Audrey and Mrs Cox for assisting with our photo-shoot.

How to report crime in South Headington

As those who attended the Area Committee last night will know, the email address for Headington South Neighbourhood Action Group has been withdrawn due to technical problems and David and I have been pressing for details of the new one.

There is now a new email address for this NAG and it is not yet on the NAG website.  The new address is

headingtonquarrywoodfarm@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk

Don’t be put off by this address, this NAG covers a huge part of our ward too – all roads on the South side of the London Road including Brookside, Latimer Road, Lime Walk, New High Street, Kennett Road, Windmill Road, Stapleton Road, Bickerton Road, York Road, Rock Edge, St Anne’s Road, Old Road and all the interconnecting roads in between.

Do contact this NAG if you are aware of any antisocial behaviour in the area

Success: London Rd lights back on

Here’s a tale of how public concern — and the press — can have a positive effect. Those of you who are attentive readers — or who are residents of the area around the London Road — will know about the problems with the traffic lights near Latimer Road. As previously reported, they have not been working for some time, making it really difficult for elderly residents to get about at all. My hyper-energetic colleague, Ruth, has been dealing with the issue but we’ve been so frustrated with the response that we called the Oxford Mail and arranged a photo-shoot for this morning.

I was up there and met the redoubtable Len of Latimer Grange, as well as Mrs Cox of McMaster House. While we were waiting for the photographer, I noticed the County workmen getting busy and trying to switch on the lights. That failed but I talked to the officer (Mike Best who lives up to his surname: thanks for your work on this one) and he arranged for a contractor to come as soon as possible. In fact, that meant just after the photographer had left. Dave, the contractor, found that the wrong fuse had been put in — a 6 amp rather than a 16 amp — replaced it, and now, at last, the lights are working again.

I do wonder how long it would have taken to get these lights going again if it hadn’t been for Ruth and my contacting the press and their agreeing to run a story. That, plus being able to talk to an officer on site. We will not know for sure but I’d like to think that the fact that local residents were willing to be in the paper helped get this sorted out in the end. The tale is a sad one of buck-passing between a privatised utility and the County Council but, to give them their due, the County officers and contractors on the ground did a sterling job, giving the tale a happy ending: thank you.