Roz is re-elected with a greatly increased majority

 

Roz re-elected! Photo courtesy Oxford Mail

Congratulations to County Councillor Roz Smith on her re-election with 55% vote share last Thursday. She increased her majority over Labour from 31 votes in 2013 to 892 in 2017. Altaf and Ruth are delighted that Roz continues as a valued member of the Headington Lib Dem team and we look forward to lots more work ahead of us in the coming year.

You can find the full set of County Council election results here

Ruth comments: “Oxfordshire Lib Dems did well in the local elections, getting increased vote shares in every council division compared with 2013. We  gained two extra seats as well as retaining those we already held, and achieved some very good second places too. It’s important to have effective opposition parties for better decision-making at County Hall.

“We are waiting to find out who will make important decisions on the Access to Headington scheme and the 20MPH consultation in Windmill Road, as Cllr Nimmo-Smith lost his seat and the Conservatives are short of an overall majority;  there are a lot of negotiations going on at time of writing.”

 

 

Two buildings proposed for Old Road Campus site

The University of Oxford has sent out the following letter to residents:

You will recall previous consultation exercises relating to developments being undertaken at the Old Road Campus site. The University is now looking to submit an application for the provision of two small specialist waste storage facilities at the site. The application will also propose improved ground works and landscaping. 

The two buildings will comprise a total of 40 square metres and will be located to the north of the Henry Wellcome Centre on the northern part of the Campus. The buildings will sit immediately adjacent to the side of the Henry Wellcome Centre and will be constructed of profiled metal in a grey colour to tie in with the adjacent buildings. Landscaping will sit to the east of the buildings and minor ground works are required to provide a level surface for the siting of the building and to enable level access.

The proposed buildings will replace the existing facility on site and provide an improved waste storage facility for the users. The facility will be used to store packaging waste associated with materials used within the buildings on site and will be emptied by specialist waste contractors who are appropriately licensed. 

Surface water drainage from the building will be dealt with by the existing road network drainage and the sealed nature of the building will ensure that no waste water will enter the surface water drainage system.

This letter is to inform you of the application submission and to invite you to view the plans for the proposed development on Oxford City Council’s website. Once the application is registered there will be a consultation period of 21 days during which you will have the opportunity to submit any comments to the Council.

Should you have any questions in the meantime, you can contact us via public.consultation@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Bridge and road closures in London 29-30 July

On Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July, as part of a weekend of Prudential RideLondon cycling events, certain roads in east, west, central and southwest London and Surrey will be closed to traffic.

There will be bridge and road closures from early morning on both days. Road users are advised to plan journeys well in advance. Many bus routes will be on diversion or will stop short of their normal destination. Stations along the route may get busy at certain times. More information will be on our website closer to the time.

For the most up to date information, please visit tfl.gov.uk/ridelondon

Southern Gas Works in Franklin Road – inadequate notice given?

It appears that the notices which went out to residents in Franklin Road about impending utilities works went out later than they should have done. Some residents got home to find SGN contractors and equipment working outside their properties, but claim they had no prior notification.

We have chased this. Here is the response from SGN

 

I can confirm our letter to residents informing them of our gas works were sent out 25th April. Our letters explain that our works effecting residents are due commence on the 15th May 2017.

We are currently working at the junction of Headley Way and Franklin Road where we have just completed a gas connection as part of our works in Headley Way, unfortunately during this time a builder decided to operate a large crane blocking off half of the carriageway in Franklin Road adding to the disruption.

We have excavated 2 camera holes in Franklin Road as part of advance investigations but these will not affect gas supplies.

Prior to our works affecting customers in Franklin Road each resident will receive a visit and an explanation of what will happen and agreed date when supplies will need to be interrupted.

If you have any queries about this, please contact us as we now have the contact details of the project manager and can take action fairly quickly.

Should Oxford impose a tourism levy?

Ruth’s Lib Dem motion for Oxford City Council to lobby nationally for the power to impose a tourism tax was carried unanimously with cross-party support at Full Council on Monday.

The issues around tourist taxes are quite complex. Here is the text of Ruth’s speech.

In his 2007 inquiry into local government, Lyons recommended that the Government should consider legislating to allow some authorities to introduce a tourism-related tax where appropriate.

In January, the London Finance Commission reported on options for a tourist levy. It sets out international comparisons and estimated revenues.

Here are some broader economic arguments that have been made about tourist tax.

  • Tourists impose costs on the host society that are not paid for by the tourist. Residents should be compensated.
  • Tourists consume un-priced natural amenities and public goods
  • The tourism sector should bear the costs of promotion
  • Tourist taxes are common in many European cities
  • Hotel taxes may lead to a decrease in demand
  • The tourism sector is already heavily taxed in terms of ticket taxes, airport taxes and VAT
  • Tourist taxes shouldn’t only be levied on hotel accommodation
  • The admin burden would fall on businesses

How could a tourism-related levy work?

  • Flat rate per night’s stay e.g. in Lisbon
  • Percentage per hotel stay cost e.g. Berlin and Amsterdam
  • Flat rates set in bands e.g. according to star rating like in Paris and Rome

AirBnB has agreed with Amsterdam authorities to simplify the payment of the tourist tax by collecting and remitting those taxes on behalf of hosts.

There are alternative voluntary schemes too but audit would need to be transparent.

In Hackney, a £1 per night voluntary donation is added to guests’ hotel bills for:

  • hospitality training schemes supported by council programmes
  • Support for cultural events
  • Improvements to public spaces

The Heart of the Lakes accommodation company in the Lake District automatically adds £2 to every invoice it raises – guests can opt out (but don’t)

There are Tourism Business Improvement Districts in Loch Ness and Torbay, and consultation is underway on another one in Birmingham.

Westminster, Birmingham, Brighton, Bath, Edinburgh and Cornwall have all considered a tourist tax in recent years but none have gone ahead because the power to impose this has not been devolved by national government.

Camden Council wants to charge a tourist levy of £1 per person per night to use for extra street cleaning in popular areas like Camden Lock.

The figures for average hotel stay in Oxford are different from those in London where the average stay is much longer at 5.83 days. Inbound tourism is set to increase with the Westgate retail offer but how much of this will translate into increased hotel occupancy?

The devolution of power to local authorities to impose tourist taxes may be well worth fighting for, at a time of post-Brexit uncertainty and public spending cuts. I look forward to a wider debate.

Here is the text of the motion that was agreed.

Power to impose a tourist tax in Oxford

Council notes that a number of local authorities are currently lobbying for the power to impose tourist bed taxes or “hotel levies”. These include Camden, Westminster, Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Edinburgh and Cornwall.

Council also notes the recent support by the Mayor of London for the introduction of such a levy following the publication for the London Finance Commission by the GLA of Working Paper 83 entitled Options for a tourism levy for London. This report gives details of tourist taxes levied across the world in cities that have a high proportion of tourists.

Council recognizes that the British Hospitality Association is strongly opposed to any imposition of a bed tax, and that the VAT rates in the UK on hotel accommodation are much higher than in other EU countries.

Oxford is the seventh most visited city in the UK by international visitors and is the tourism gateway to the rest of Oxfordshire. The opening of the new Westgate retail offer is expected to generate increased visits to Oxford. Council welcomes tourism in Oxford as this brings many benefits to the City, however this does bring with it an extra demand for infrastructure and environmental improvements, and cost to the Council of increased workload in some departments, for example Streetscene and Parks.

Council notes that there are uncertainties ahead post-Brexit with respect to Oxford’s economy, and that it may be wise to join other authorities in lobbying for the power to introduce and retain a tourism levy.

Council therefore asks the Chief Executive and the Leader of the Council to work with other local authorities representing cities with high rates of tourism to lobby jointly for the devolution of the above power. It further requests that Council writes to Oxford’s two MPs to inform them of this Council’s motion and ask for their support.

Useful references:

https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/tourism-levy-for-london-wp83.pdf

http://uk.businessinsider.com/sadiq-khan-calling-for-visitors-to-be-hit-by-new-tourism-tax-2017-1

http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/could-bath-be-the-first-uk-city-to-bring-in-a-tourist-tax-a7516856.html

 

Oxford’s Japan Day 1st May

Have a taste of Japan in Oxford next Monday 1 May 2017 anytime from 11am to 3pm at St Giles’ Church Hall (OX2 6HT).

The organisers promise lots of typical Japanese food including cakes and tea; traditional Japanese crafts and antiques; workshops in origami, Japanese calligraphy, face painting and  a kimono (Japanese traditional clothes) fitting.

The event is aimed at introducing Japanese culture to people in Oxford and raising funds in aid of the communities affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

Next month’s events

  • Monday 1 May, May Morning, Magdalen Bridge, 5am to 7am. The choristers of Magdalen College choir will be singing Hymnus Eucharisticus from the Great Tower, which will be followed by the bells ringing out over the city for approximately 20 minutes. www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20035/events/559/may_morning_in_oxford
  • Sunday 7 May, Bike Oxford 2017, route through the city centre starting and finishing at Oxford University Rugby Club, 6.30am to 6pm. Bike Oxford, now entering its 4th year, is a day of marked rides of 25, 50 and 80 miles, taking in the best scenery of Oxford and the surrounding countryside. www.iconiccyclingevents.co.uk
  • Monday 8, 22 and 29 May, Sri Chinmoy Races, Cutteslowe Park, 7am to 7.30pm. Self Transcendence race series held every summer in Cutteslowe Park.https://uk.srichinmoyraces.org/races/oxford
  • Thursday 11 May, Mental Health Awareness Week, Bonn Square, 10am to 3pm. Oxford City Council and partners from Public Health, Aspire, Restore and OxSPA are coming together to promote Mental Health Awareness Week. www.oxford.gov.uk
  • Saturday 13 – Sunday 14 May, British Heart Foundation London to Oxford Trek, finishing at Oxpens Meadow, 2pm (Sat) to 4pm (Sun). From the Capital to the historic university city of Oxford, heart trekkers can walk 100 km through the day and through the night. www.bhf.org.uk
  • Saturday 13 May, OxHoli 2017, Cowley Marsh, 12pm to 4pm. Celebration of the Indian festival of colours, organised by the Oxford University Hindu Society.https://www.facebook.com/groups/2202237652/
  • Sunday 14 May, Town & Gown, route through the city centre finishing at University Parks, 8am to 12pm. Annual 10k charity road race through Oxford City Centre.http://www.musculardystrophyuk.org/
  • Sunday 14 May, Jewish Culture Fair, Broad Street, 2pm to 6pm. Event celebrating Jewish culture including music, art, food, history display and crafts.www.oxfordchabad.org

May morning celebrations

Thousands of people are expected to see in May Morning together on Magdalen Bridge.

It will start at 6am on Monday 1 May with the choristers of Magdalen College choir singing the Hymnus Eucharisticus* from the college’s Great Tower.

This will be followed by the Great Tower’s bells ringing out over the city for approximately 20 minutes.

Events and activities, including Morris Dancing and folk singing, will then take place across the city.

Last year’s event attracted about 25,000 people. For more information about events taking place this year, please visit: www.dailyinfo.co.uk/mayday.

*Hymnus Eucharisticus was composed in the 17th century by a Fellow of Magdalen College and has been sung every year from the Great Tower on May Morning ever since.

Latest licensing application – CRAFT burger

Application no. 17/01420/PREM

Address of premises: Craft Burger, 1, The Parade, Windmill Road

Application to vary a Premises licence: To add off sales of alcohol to the existing licence: Sunday to Saturday 12:00 hours to 22:00 hours (off sales)

Deadline for comments: 10 May 2017

Address for representations to be sent:

The Licensing Authority, Oxford City Council St Aldates Chambers, 109 St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1DS, or by email to: licensing@oxford.gov.uk

How to register for priority service in power cuts

Thanks to one of our residents for alerting us to Scottish and Southern Electricity’s Priority Service scheme.

The SSE website gives the following information:

Who is eligible to join our Priority Services Register?

You can join our Priority Services Register if you:

  • Are dependent on electricity for home medical care, for example a kidney dialysis machine or ventilator.
  • Have a chronic illness or short term medical condition; for example you are recovering from a major operation.
  • Are disabled.
  • Have special communication needs; for example because you are blind, partially sighted, deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Have children under 5.
  • Are over 60 years old.

We recognise some of our customers may need support in other ways during power cuts. If you have other needs and feel you will need extra help in the event of a power cut, please contact us to discuss. 

If you would like more information please go to www.ssen.co.uk/priorityservices/