Full Council

The last full council of 2011 and a ridiculously full agenda! We met at 5pm and I didn’t stop until 10.37pm and even then, had not dealt with the motions on notices, statements and questions.

There were some very important items at this meeting.

The council also considered plans for Barton West and also the latest round of attacks on HMO tenants and landlords.  The use of a house as an HMO (that means 3 or more unrelated people living there) is a different planning use class and Labour has made it a requirement that all changes to use class C4 will require planning permission and that change of use from C3 (family home) to C4 will require planning permission.  Even more worrying is that planning permission will be refused if there are more than 20% of properties in that street already in use as HMOs.  I think that will be catastrophically disastrous for Oxford’s housing situation.  We’ll see.

I am utterly appalled at some of the judgemental and social-sorting based on tenure language that is being used by this Labour Council.  Try “However, in some areas of the city, high concentrations of HMOs are resulting in changes to the character of the local area, and may also contribute to local parking problems, large numbers of transient households, and the affordability of renting or buying homes in Oxford. This has led some people to believe that their communities are becoming unbalanced, because the number of short‐term tenants with less established community ties has grown too large.”

I think that’s outrageous and hope that lots of Oxford-dwellers will agree. I see it as nothing more than a direct attack on students, honest landlords and anyone elsewho can’t afford to live in Oxford in any other way than in an HMO.

Another thing discussed was the issue of adopting some legislation to allow the licensing of horse-drawn carriages in the City Centre. This was being recommended by the General Purposes Licensing Committee but I am pleased that the Full Council saw that any horse drawn carriages would be inappropriate in such a constrained City as Oxford for reasons both of horse welfare and pedestrian, cyclist safety. I was glad to be one of the 27 that voted against the Licensing Committee’s recommendation.  This shocking video from New York is one of the things that convinced me to vote against.

A long and tiring meeting and some really stupid planning decisions rushed through by our current megalomaniac Labour Administration if you ask me!

5 thoughts on “Full Council

  1. Stephen Law says:

    FYI Tony. One month street diary of a single East Oxford Street of just 40 houses approx. Autumn 2011.

    Sunday 26th September
    The newly formed residents association (comprised of local residents, students and local businesses) deliver leaflets to every house on the street personally and inviting everyone to join in to help create a better living environment for all. Our leaflet lists useful local telephone numbers including details of rubbish and recycling.

    Sunday 2nd October
    • Finders Keepers letting agency and the Community Liaison Officer at Brookes, are informed of problems at two houses, numbers x and y, the previous week which included:
    o Partying students and drunken antics outside the properties between 2.00 am and 4.00 am.
    o At 1.30 am on another morning students standing on top of parked vehicles and playing rugby in street.
    (Residents requested politely for quiet, but this did not have any affect on students’ subsequent actions.)
    • A group of women residents go round and explain to the Brookes students at the two houses that they are keeping people awake in the street. The residents sit in the houses for twenty minutes, have a friendly chat. The students apologise and say they’ll keep noise down in future.

    Mon 3rd October
    • 30 students came out of the same houses, x and y, and stand in the street drinking, shouting and swearing at 10.15pm. Plastic glasses, beer cans and bottles are discarded in the roadway, as well as cigarette butts. (The chat with the women residents seems to have had no effect.)

    Wednesday 5th October
    • Screeching, shouting loud music, large groups of drunken students congregating 10.00pm onwards outside numbers x, y and z (the same Brookes houses plus the one next door). The next morning there is more debris – bottles, cans, glasses, cigarette butts, and also clothing on the street in front of the house.
    • Party at number x until 3.00am, loud music, students drinking, smoking and shouting on the steps of no. x. At 2.00am there are over 20 people in the street shouting and drinking.

    Thurs 6th October
    • Residents of number v (Brookes House) have a party with loud bass music. Back door is open and at 10:30, residents disturbed by the noise ask them to shut the door to keep the noise in. The door is shut, but 10 minutes later it is open again. At about 11:00, the same residents knock on the front door, but are not heard for about 5 minutes. When the door opens, they ask the students to keep the noise down and consider taking their party elsewhere, as it is a week night. As the door is shut, one of the party guests shouts ‘turn it up – the neighbors can’t hear the music’. Later, the police are called. When they visit the house, the noise ceases and the guests leave.

    Friday 7th October
    • 11.00pm drunken shouting and screaming outside three Brookes houses (x, y and z) in the street. Again, street is littered with plastic cups, cans, cigarette ends, and take away polystyrene cups.
    • 1.00am an ambulance seen outside x, y and z houses.
    • 2.00am a resident who politely asked a group of ten students to quieten down is threatened and physically intimidated by one member of the group, who is subsequently identified as Oxford University student.

    Tues 11th October
    • Police visit resident who was threatened on the 7th. He agrees not to press charges.

    Wednesday 12th October
    • No x : 9.30pm large gang of students outside drinking smoking, shouting. They are identified later by students as group from a Brookes Rugby club freshers’ party.
    • Number a hold a loud party. Music, banging doors, screeching, shouting in the garden. Resident complains as children are woken. The noise becomes even louder and the resident complains again. Drinking game loudly audible through walls of adjoining house. Residents complain for a third time. The students (Brookes) finally go out to Fuzzy Ducks ten minutes later. Two school age children have been kept awake for two hours.

    Thurs 13th October
    • Smashed glass, beer bottles, pile of vomit on the street outside number x and y – post party debris (Brookes students). Trail of litter and debris leading up street from Cowley road towards these properties, including smashed up cardboard boxes.

    Sat 15th October

    • 11.00pm. Male aged 19 or 20 walking down the middle of the Street urinating whilst also drinking a pint of lager. Lots of young people between the ages of 18 and 23 are out on street drinking, shouting. This continues into early hours.

    Week of 16th October

    After consultation with residents, the local community police deliver a leaflet through all doors about noise pollution and anti-social behaviour. The street is quiet for a few days.

    Friday 21st October
    • No c have a party. Drunken shouting in garden until nearly midnight.
    • The residents of number m have eggs thrown at their front windows.

    Tuesday 25th October
    • 12.00 noon: a syringe and broken glass found in gutter outside number c.

  2. Stephen Law says:

    PS This is typical for the time of year.

    Number of antisocial behaviour incidents reported in the same street Christmas/New Year period (when students are away)?


  3. tonybrett says:

    This is a sad tale Stephen and thank you for sharing it. I hope all those involved in the antisocial behaviour are thoroughly ashamed of themselves. They should be.

    It’s great that the new residents association is being proactive but may I make two suggestions:

    1. Invite student households to actually join the residents association – ask for email addresses and send them updates. They are residents too, even if just for a few months of the year. Oxford is a City with a very transient population and I think it’s important to welcome people and their contribution to our City equally whether they are here for 3 months or 30 years!

    2. The leaflet is a great idea but students get lots of leaflets so instead of just delivering it, take time to knock on doors, say hello to students, hand them the leaflet, explain what it’s for and take email addresses and/or mobile numbers so you can keep in touch. I find people including students are almost always very willing to do this and very grateful for the contact in a non-confrontational situation and before any potential trouble. I also had some cards made for our local NHW scheme (that I run) with contact details on it so people can put that on their notice boards at home – people are more likely to give you their contact details if you give them yours.

    Good luck with the ongoing work and I do hope you don’t suffer any more experiences like those you mention in your comment.

  4. Andrea Siret says:


    We are very sorry to hear of the disturbances you have encountered during this last semester.

    The majority of our students are well behaved and it is the minority that cause concern regarding anti-social behaviour and noise. We do recognise that some disturbances are caused by students studying at Brookes and we have a procedure in place to address every concern raised with us. We take all complaints seriously and where we are able to identify students responsible we take action in accordance with this procedure.

    We do recognise, however, that on some occasions it is difficult to identify an individual or house number of those causing concern. In these instances we work with the local police team and our own fully funded PCSOs to try and reduce the negative impact some of our students may have on the local community.

    We have looked back through our complaints log to see if we have been informed of the incidents you mention and we have taken action through our complaints procedure to address the concerns raised. Although we do not appear to have on record any complaints received from you personally.

    We work very closely with the Council on waste management and have been increasing our efforts in East Oxford this academic year. We give advice to students living in the area on how to manage their waste and supply contact numbers should they require further assistance.

    Please be assured that we take all concerns raised extremely seriously and every complaint is logged and action is taken. Below is the link to our Brookes in the Community leaflet which gives further details of the complaints procedure and how to contact us.


    Please do get in contact with us at the Community Liaison Office if you experience further difficulties.


  5. Stephen Law says:


    Thanks for the comments. re your two suggestions, we actually did both those things. Some students belong to the association. We introduced ourselves personally by knocking on every single door with the leaflet.

    Thanks Andrea, for your comment.

    We would prefer you to send a much clearer message to your students before such incidents start each term, rather than after the events.

    We believe that the mainly reactive approach currently adopted by Brookes is not good for community cohesion. It pits residents against students. We do not want constantly to be put in the position of having to police and report on the behaviour of your students to the University, the council, and the police. Frankly, we are now exhausted from having to start again from scratch year after year after year. We’ve had enough. Your reactive approach has clearly failed.

    You now need to take a much more robust, proactive approach.

    It would also be good to see some robust and effective punishment transparently administered by Brookes.

    According to statistics provided by Brookes at the request of a resident in May 2010, in the previous 4 years, 390 complaints from residents about Brookes students had been received (mainly noise), while in the previous 10 years just 4 disciplinary investigations had been “needed” (i.e. carried out), not one of which resulted in an actual penalty.

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