Message from Stef, your new Headington Ward councillor

Here are some reflections by Stef after Monday’s Council meeting.

Wow! It feels almost surreal to have become the latest councillor to represent the ward of Headington. I came to Oxford from South Africa in 2002. I have worked in its hospitals and for the University. I have watched my children grow up in its schools. Now I get to give back to the City that has become my home. To become a councillor is not something I would have anticipated a year ago but I feel amazingly privileged to have been given this opportunity.

The last week has seemed like a whirlwind of activity. In the last few days canvassing, I was able to meet more of Headington’s residents who were new to me, as well as many residents who have become to seem more like old friends. The count was both exciting yet nerve-racking. However to have received such a large endorsement from the residents of Headington was humbling. I promise to return your faith to me by working hard for everyone in the ward – just as you have grown to expect from your Headington councillors Ruth, Roz and Altaf.

There has been little time to relax, with a Council induction session on Friday and a briefing on the Members’ Code of Conduct on Monday. On Monday 23rd July I signed the Declaration of Office and then attended my first Full Council meeting. I couldn’t have been prouder as it’s such an honour to represent the people of Headington.

On Monday night, the Liberal Democrats put forward motions on improved eco-standards in new buildings and on greater support for the homeless (the unconfirmed minutes will be made available shortly on the City Council’s meetings web page). With the current hot, dry summer, it felt appropriate that Oxford City Council should try and ensure that our desperately needed new homes be greener than ever. It was good to have strong support from the Green Party and, once Labour had made some minor amendments this motion was voted through by the Council.

Less successful was our motion to provide more support for the homeless. We tried to offer innovative and radical ideas that have seen success in other areas. We cannot continue to provide homes only by using traditional standard types of housing. New ideas are needed and as a council I feel we must take responsibility for promoting some of the better plans put forward, such as the student architecture designs by Oxford Brookes University made in partnership with the Crisis homeless support charity.  At times in the debate it felt like Labour would rather see people going without a home than try something new, seeing these as “a gimmick”.  They seem to have a somewhat conservative approach to solving our homelessness and housing crises, as was shown by their wrecking amendments which we could not support.  I hope we will successfully challenge their approach in future.

Much more encouraging was the cross-party support for the City of Oxford for a People’s Vote. Clearly this motion was always going to be unreservedly supportive by the Liberal Democrat Group. This was an issue that people brought up time and time again across Headington in the May election as well as during the by-election. Most Labour councillors defied their central Party and should be commended for placing the people of Oxford above Party politics. This vote reflected our City’s attachment to Europe and the knowledge of how bad Brexit will be for us. I do so hope the City-wide support for a People’s Vote is now brought up in Parliament by our two MPs.

As this Council meeting was so close to the by-election, I had no opportunity to submit questions to the executive board members. However it became clear very quickly what a challenge it is to sit on the opposition benches when Labour has such an overwhelming majority. Labour is stuck very much in the past as it continues to attack the Coalition government rather than move with the times. I would like to think that we should all be trying to build an Oxford for the future, for all its citizens, regardless of their background, not trying to score points from the past.

Once again thank you to all of you for your support. I promise to work hard for the future of our City, especially Headington and its residents.

Come and meet your new councillor!

Your next opportunity to meet newly-elected Cllr Stef Garden will be at our next Headington Ward Focus meeting.

 

HEADINGTON WARD FOCUS MEETING

Tuesday 31st July 2018

All Saints Church House, New High Street, Headington OX3 7AL

6:00-7:30 pm

Do come along, we’d love to see you! All welcome. Admission free.

Your opportunity to get an update on local news from your councillors (and that includes Access to Headington latest!)

 

Stef Garden is elected Headington’s new City Councillor!

 

The Headington Lib Dem team is delighted that our colleague Stef Garden won yesterday’s by election yesterday and would like to thank all who voted.

The result is:

Stef Garden Lib Dem 949     

Labour candidate 419

Conservative candidate 124

Green candidate 67

36.6% turnout was higher than expected

Stef says: “I’m so honoured to represent Headington. Thank you to everybody for their overwhelming support. Now the hard work really starts but I’m up for the challenge!”

PICKMEUP bus service – presentation at Ward Focus Meeting next Tuesday

Altaf writes:

We have two guest speakers at next Tuesday’s Ward Focus meeting from Oxford Bus Company. Lucy and Maddie will talk about the new PICKMEUP bus service which launches on the 28th. This has been likened to an “Uber for buses”.

We invite residents to come and listen to the presentation and ask questions.

The Ward Focus Meeting is on Tuesday 26th June from 6:00-7:30 pm at Headington Baptist Church Hall. It is open to all residents who live in Headington Ward.

Latest Access to Headington news

Here is an update from Cllr Roz Smith

Isaac Webb, project lead for Access to Headington project gave a progress update to local councillors.

A gas main had been discovered* at the Marsh Lane junction, thereby disrupting works and causing about a two-week delay, although they are expecting to make time up elsewhere with works that are easier to install.

Parking spaces outside the shops could be suspended as works are underway; businesses are being kept informed and the safety control officer is on hand to help with large lorry deliveries.  There have been some complaints that businesses are suffering financially; government ruling is that compensation cannot be paid in these circumstances.   (*This utility pipe had not appeared on records.)

Temporary traffic lights will be on when work to finish junction kerbs are underway – they are removed overnight.  At the moment 24thJuly is the date for the change in direction of traffic that runs in front of the shops.

The JR junction works are on hold, with works planned to start at the top of Headley Way working their way on one side of the road towards the JR junction.  These are due to start week beginning 25thJune.  The advisory cycle lanes have been masked out; note I asked for the cyclists’ dismount signs to be removed as not necessary!

Safety through works has been an issue, e.g. jumping of red lights but no serious incidents have been reported. 

I enquired when the Old Road continuous cycle lane works will start and is this still in the project.  It is still in the scheme, will possibly be a priority next year.  I also asked about the promised 20mph consultation for Windmill Road.  The consultation is not part of Isaac’s remit and will depend on the highway safety team. I will continue to chase!

My last questions related to monitoring.  There will be data showing before and after scheme is completed to show “benefit realisation”

Please note that the dates given are subject to change – e.g. finding another unrecorded utility pipe!

Date and venue for June Headington Ward focus meeting announced

NEXT HEADINGTON WARD FOCUS MEETING

The next public meeting for residents who live in Headington Ward will be on

Tuesday 26th June

Headington Baptist Church, Old High Street, Old Headington OX3 9HW

from 6:00-7:30 pm

Ward Focus meetings are run on a drop in and out basis and are free of charge. There is an open session where residents can raise issues of concern. There’s no need to book.

If you would like to contact your Lib Dem city councillors for advice on any issue please contact

  • Altaf on 07931 345554  altaf.khan@oxfordlibdems.org.uk (phone preferred)
  • For county matters please ring Roz Smith on 07584 257156 or email her at roz.smith@oxfordlibdems.org.uk  (phone preferred)