County Council’s city centre plans

Please click here to see the County Council’s plans to pedestrianise the centre of Oxford

I went to a briefing on this tonight. I get the impression that very few people have been consulted. This is

a vision, not a solid immutable blueprint (Keith Mitchell).

Their view of the City Centre is that there are too many buses, dirty
cluttered streets, and poor quality pavement materials

The exemplar of good practice they want to aspire to is the Castle redevelopment

They are aiming for:

  • more pedestrianisation
  • low-emission buses (trams are too expensive)
  • optical registration of bus routes
  • significantly reduced no. buses but the same no. passenger journeys
  • smartcard bus ticketing
  • cleaner streets
  • better pavement materials

The buses from East Oxford via Cowley Road/Iffley Road/St
Clements/Marston Road will turn round at the Plain – that’s the
current thinking. But they will think about extending the route for
through buses from further out if this is not possible. From St
Clements? From Gipsy Lane? From London Road roundabout? From Park
and Ride? That’s all up for debate and the bus companies will have a
big role in sorting this out. But at present they are assuming the
buses from our end of Oxford will turn round at the Plain and will not
diminish in frequency. People will then change onto buses that run through the City Centre

Buses from North Oxford will turn round at a strange new turning place by
the Ashmolean short of the Martyrs’ Memorial, councillors are concerned
this will upset St John’s College

Mr Hugh-Jones (Env/Econ) mentioned talks starting about running a bus service
between Thornhill, the hospitals, and Peartree.

A bendy bus had been superimposed on the presentation slides, it resembled an airport bus for people to stand in, with very few seats. “What about the elderly? What about
people with luggage?” we exclaimed! But the type of bus has not been decided upon yet

Ian Hudspeth and Keith Mitchell seem to think the scheme frees up the options for London buses to depart from other areas of the City. I pointed out that 25%
Tube passengers get on the coach between the Plain and London Road
roundabout, that many Headington residents have bought houses here in
order to access the London buses, and that proprietors of bed and
breakfast accommodation and hotels in Headington had acquired premises
precisely because they were on the main route to London.
I pointed out that the bus companies would be hard to persuade that
their established routes should be changed as they stood to lose a lot
of money, at least initially.

They want to pedestrianise Broad Street and pave it with high quality
materials funded from developer money! (from where? Where can they
develop Broad St.?)

They have no budget for this at present. They are interested in
getting money from the Transport Innovations Fund and they think
they’d be successful, although this would not be enough

Bus stops would move from Queen St to Castle St. and New Road

They will do an audit of cycle racks, then decide where to site new
ones. Lots of concern about the need for cycle routes – The Plain may
become a death trap for cyclists? They would like a rent-a bike scheme as in Barcelona

Phase 1 is putting a non-stopping bus lane down the middle of Queen St
with pedestrian walkways either side.

The plans for consultation are not yet firmed up, but residents will be able to give their views via the County Council. There’s a lot to sort out before plans get as far as that!

Parcel delivery and collection

Residents have asked David and me to pursue some issues about the collection and delivery of parcels and about the service provision at Ledgers’ Close in Littlemore.  I met two Royal Mail managers this morning and this I what I learned.

The delivery centre in Ledgers’ Close deals with parcels/packets with OX3 and OX4 postcodes. Anything for East Oxford without a postcode will go by default to the delivery centre for OX1 and OX2 in the City Centre. 

Royal Mail agree that there have been resourcing issues and there are still 13 vacancies.

Processing the packets/parcels for delivery takes staff up until 09.30 each morning, so deliveries take place from 09.45-14.00. This of course means that those in full-time employment are unlikely to be in to accept deliveries.

Requests for re-instatement of undelivered parcel collection point in Headington

There are no plans to do this at present.  There are however a range of options open to people who aren’t in when the postal worker calls, these include:

  • request an alternative delivery day (but this will again be from 09.45-14.00)
  • request redelivery c/o a neighbour
  • request redelivery at a safe place (e.g. shed, garage)
  • request redelivery to your place of work
  • ask to collect it from Headington PO for 50p

The 50p is to cover the cost of re-routing the parcel from Royal Mail to Post Office Counters Ltd or their franchisee. Delivery cannot be made to local newsagents as Royal Mail has to discharge its responsibility for the safety of parcels.

Regarding the dificulty in parking in Ledgers’ Close, I am assured that Royal Mail employees are required to park their cars elsewhere (at the bowling club round the corner).  They cannot see an easy way to resolve the parking issues nearby

Inefficiency of online redelivery service

Emails are now cleared throughout the morning.  If an email is received in the afternoon, it will be processed next morning.  So if you email on Monday, the earliest you can be sure of getting the parcel redelivered will be Wednesday

Delay in answering the phones at the Delivery Centre

There are 4 people working in the Callers’ Office in the mornings and 2 in the afternoons. If staffing levels are down, they call people in to cover.  There is no “The phone must be answered inside three rings” type procedure.  They are installing an answerphone so that callers won’t have to hang on the line, this will happen very soon

Under-resourcing of the Delivery Centre

They have 13 vacancies currently.  They are filling in with staff opting to do voluntary overtime, and with agency temps on a casual contract.  They are desperate to recruit and are keen for parents of school age children to consider applying for delivery jobs, they offer 09.00-15.00 contracts but would welcome offers of working from 09.30-14.30 if more appropriate

Suggestions to take forward

They welcomed the suggestions made by Headington residents to improve services.  They will investigate:

  1. Improvements to missed Saturday delivery service: at present items undelivered on Saturdays are stored at Headington PO over the weekend and transferred to the Delivery Centre on Mondays for re-processing
  2. Direction to postal staff that initials as well as surnames should be put on undelivered cards so that family members know who the parcel is for!

David and I are contacting the Area Manager for Post Office Counters Ltd to explore other issues and are continuing this liaison work with Royal Mail

Meeting the Royal Mail

I have a meeting booked on Monday with two representatives from Royal Mail concerning issues raised by residents about the collection of postal deliveries. The topics you have raised with me include:

  1. the reinstatement of an undelivered parcel collection point in Headington
  2. the inefficiency of the redelivery online service
  3. the wait for telephone calls at the Delivery Centre to be answered
  4. the seeming under-resourcing of the Delivery Centre in Littlemore

Other issues include misdelivery, the return of parcels and the physical state of the pavement outside the post office in Headington. is.jpg

If there is any other issue you want David and me to raise, please leave a comment on this page by pressing the Comment button and typing in your views. We shall be talking to the manager of the Delivery Centre and to the area manager.

Taking up complaints with Thames Water

Thanks to everyone who attended the area committee meeting tonight, it was good to see so many residents willing to ask questions of the representatives from Thames Water, and I am really pleased we were able to discuss our issues with them.

I mentioned the complaints procedure to follow if you feel that an issue you have reported has not been dealt with appropriately or there has been a service failure. The first thing to do is to use Thames Water’s own formal complaints procedure – click here for details

If you are unable to resolve it, you can contact the Consumer Council for Water Thames – for consumers of Thames Water, Three Valleys Water, Sutton and East Surrey. Their address is

Fourth Floor (South), High Holborn House, 52/54 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6RL

Click here for details – their services are free

Help us shape Oxford survey

A survey is being carried out across the county, and you may be one of the lucky people to get a questionnaire through your letter-box! It’s part of a national Place Survey Programme which is asking residents aged 18 and over to comment on their immediate neighbourhood, public services, and whether they get involved in their community.

If you need any help in filling in the form or want to know more about the survey, please click here for details. Your comments are important to us – let the Councils know how happy you are with their local services!

WaterWatch Oxford

tap1.jpg Got a problem with Thames Water?

David and I have started up a campaign site called WaterWatch Oxford for any resident in Oxford to email us with reports of the issues they have with Thames Water utility services. We want to log how many issues there are across the City so that we ask Thames Water about them next Tuesday and continue to chase progress

If YOU have a problem you wish to report, please click on WATER WATCH OXFORD on the left hand toolbar and tell me

WHAT happened?

WHERE it happened?

WHEN it happened, and has it happened again?

WHO did you contact to get it fixed?

WHAT did they do to fix it?

Rubbish collection in Kennett Road

In response to residents’ concerns, I have made several phone calls and sent a number of emails to staff at City Works about the possible confusion caused by refuse collections being carried out in Kennett Road on the same day of the week as the Farmers’ Market 

The flats whose access is into the first part of Kennett Road are London Road addresses and their scheduled collection is Thursday – the refuse collection vehicle will collect this waste from the London Road End.

The Kennett Road residents will have their refuse collected on Fridays. On the Fridays when the market is in operation, the refuse collection vehicle will reverse, using a bansksman, from Bateman Street as far as the “No Entry” signs at the far end

City Works believe that the refuse collection will not affect the operation of the Farmers Market.  They say..

The market organiser has in fact stated that there is sufficient room for our vehicles to turn around near to the market without affecting it if we so wish.

As far as other road users are concerned, these problems are faced daily: in other parts of the city and in roads that are considerably narrower. There is sufficient space in Kennett Road for other vehicles to pass the Refuse Collection Vehicle but do recognise that sometimes this may cause a delay to other road users but not normally more than one or two minutes.

One would expect all drivers to take note of all road and traffic
conditions and manoeuvre accordingly

Please let David and me know if there are any operational problems when the new scheme commences.

Problems with Thames Water?

If you have problems with flooding or sewage or you are confused about your water bills, then come along to the next North East Area Committee and make your views known to the staff from Thames Water ! The meeting is at Bayard’s Hill School, Bayswater Road (parking off Waynflete Road) in Barton on Tuesday 21 October at 6 p.m. Please make yourself known to me as well – I’ll be there to grill them too!


Anti theft screws for car number plates

Over the last couple of months some residents in Oxford City have been victims of vehicle registration plate theft.
Thames Valley Police has a supply of anti theft screws which can be used as a deterrent to this type of crime. To fit these screws it is first necessary to remove just one of the existing screws on front and rear number plates and replace them with the anti theft device using a conventional screw driver. It is recommended that the new screw head is left uncovered so that it is obvious to a potential thief that the device is fitted.
If you wish to obtain a free supply of these screws they can be collected from the front counters at either St. Aldate’s or Cowley Police Staions on a first come first served basis.