A reception for children and teachers from Bonns Fünfte School

group_bonnI really should be out knocking on doors and will be shortly but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to welcome this group to Oxford from our twin City of Bonn.  The group consisted of Ursula Dreeser, the headteacher of Bonns Fünfte School, about 15 children and one other staff member.  I prepared a short speech of welcome and my good friend from Bonn, Ursula Hassel, did a nice straightforward translation.  I am not a German speaker so I was grateful to my colleague at work Katherine, for helping me rehearse it.  Another work colleauge, Marko, came with me as a native German speaker as I knew I would struggle with small talk with the children after the speech.  He did a great job!

Here’s what I said: “Liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler aus Bonn,

herzlich willkommen in Oxford! Ich hoffe, ihr hattet eine gute Reise. Es freut mich, dass ihr unsere Stadt besucht und ich begrüße euch sehr herzlich im Namen unserer Stadt und unseres Stadtrats. Ich heiße Tony Brett und bin Mitglied des Stadtrats und stellvertretender Oberbürgermeister. Die Oberbürgermeisterin, Frau Dee Sinclair, lässt euch sehr herzlich grüßen und bedauert, dass sie heute nicht hier sein kann.

Wir befinden uns hier im Oberbürgermeistersaal des Rathauses. Dieses Rathaus wurde vor hundertzwanzig (120) Jahren gebaut und ist das dritte Gebäude an dieser Stelle.

Die Aufgabe der Oberbürgermeisterin in Oxford ist es, den Stadtrat bei feierlichen Anlässen zu vertreten, Werbung für die Stadt zu machen und die vielen ehrenamtlichen und sonstigen Organisationen in Oxford zu unterstützen. Eine wichtige Aufgabe der Oberbürgermeisterin ist es auch, die Städtepartner¬schaftsprogramme zu unterstützen. Und deshalb freue ich mich, dass ihr aus unserer Partnerstadt Bonn nach Oxford gekommen seid.

Ich hoffe, dass ihr während eurer fünf Tage in Oxford viele interessante Dinge erleben und viel Spaß haben werdet. Oxford ist eine Stadt mit einer langen und interessanten Geschichte und es gibt wirklich viel hier zu sehen. Besonders schön sehen unsere alten Gebäude in der Sonne aus; deshalb hoffe ich, dass sie in den nächsten Tagen öfter mal scheint. Viel Freude wünsche ich euch auch in der West Oxford Community Schule.

Wie ihr in der Stadt sehen werdet, gibt es in Oxford viele Universitätsstudenten, und viele von ihnen machen gerade ihre Prüfungen. Ihr werdet sie an ihren schwarzen Gewändern erkennen, die sie während der Prüfungen tragen müssen. Manche von ihnen haben auch eine Nelke an ihr Gewand gesteckt. Das ist eine Tradition hier in Oxford. Bei der ersten Prüfung tragen sie eine weiße Nelke, bei den mittleren Prüfungen eine rosafarbene und bei der letzten Prüfung eine rote Nelke. Schaut in den nächsten Tagen mal, ob ihr sie entdecken könnt.

Ich habe heute einen deutschen Freund aus meinem Büro mitgebracht; er heißt Marko und er spricht wesentlich besser Deutsch als ich. Gerne könnt ihr ihm Fragen zur Stadt Oxford, dem Bürgermeisteramt oder zu eurem Besuch hier stellen.

Und nun wünsche ich euch ein paar wunderschöne Tage und viel Spaß hier in Oxford.”

threeThe school party came over from Bonn this morning by train (including Eurostar) and were in good spirits.  We had a little reception with tea, coffee and soft drinks in the Lord Mayor’s parlour and then I showed the children and their teachers the Council Chamber and the Main Hall of the Town Hall.  The children asked lots of intelligent questions and I was grateful to have a translator present in Marko.

The group is staying in central Oxford for five days and has two mornings at West Oxford Primary School planned as well as lots of sightseeing in and around Oxford.  I hope they have a really great time!

Here’s what I said in English: “Hello students from Bonn and welcome to our City of Oxford. I hope you had a good journey. It is very good to have you here and I am happy to welcome you on behalf of our City and the City Council. I am Councillor Tony Brett, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford and our Lord Mayor, Councillor Dee Sinclair sends you her best wishes too but can’t be here today.

We are in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in Oxford Town Hall. The Town Hall is an historic building built nearly 120 years ago. The current Town Hall is the third on the site and its foundation stone was laid in 1893 by the Mayor Thomas Lucas.

You are going to be in Oxford for five days so I hope you have many interesting visits and fun experiences. Oxford is a City with a really interesting and long history so there is lots to see here. I think our buildings look particularly lovely in the golden summer sun so I hope you’ll see some between now and Friday! I wish you an enjoyable time with West Oxford Community Primary School too.

Oxford has a lot of students and many are taking examinations at the moment so are dressed in the uniform called “sub fusc” that they have to wear for them. You might see them wearing a flower (carnations) too. The tradition is that they wear a white flower for their first exam, a pink one for all those in the middle and a red flower for the last one. Do look out for them!

I have a German friend from my office with me here today, Marko, and he speaks much better German than me! If you want to ask him anything about the City, the Lord Mayor or your visit, please do.

I hope you have a wonderful five days in Oxford and enjoy yourselves greatly. Welcome again to our City!”

The saga of the bus stops continues

ox mail beaumont 20 may 14A story has appeared in the Oxford Mail today about the temporary bus stops on Beaumont Street and the disturbance this is causing to students.  The story includes:

County council spokesman Owen Morton said: “Temporary arrangements of this nature are inevitably going to cause a certain amount of disruption and inconvenience for residents, as well as bus users and pedestrians. We understand the concerns of students and other residents living close to the temporary stops. However, given the need for an accessible, city centre location, Beaumont Street was identified as the best available option for the temporary stops and to position them elsewhere – including within the street itself – would be likely to cause similar inconvenience for other residents.”

This shows a staggering lack of understanding and knowledge of Beaumont Street and frankly I expect much better from the County Council.  Here are some facts:

1. There is nobody other than 35 students living near the temporary bus stops. There are no “other residents” living near the bus stops.

2. There are in fact only six other residents on Beaumont Street in total: 3 at number 15 and 3 at number 33. That’s six elsewhere vs 35 in close proximity to each other with the bus stops right on top of them and just about to sit finals. People on the top decks of double-deckers are now looking into the student rooms on the 1st floor while they are trying to study.

On that basis I suggest that these bus stops could not have been put in a worse place. Any City or County Councillor for the area could have told the County Highways department this, as could have a quick look at the electoral register.

I really feel sorry for the 35 students living at 5-7 Beaumont Street, about to sit finals and with buses stopping and loading/unloading right outside their windows 18 hours per day. It must be awful to be on the first floor and have those on the top deck of double-deckers peering in while you’re trying to study.

I have emailed more people in the County Council today in an attempt to get this mess sorted out and the problem at least mitigated.

Update 20 May PM:  I have had a helpful phone call from Stagecoach Oxford saying they will get a company member of staff to attend regularly at the bus stops to encourage people to wait quietly and to monitor the situation.  She also said she would get some laminated signs put up asking people to wait quietly.  This is helpful and I hope will make at least some difference.bus stop signs

Update 21 May PM:  And the signs are up!  I hope they help keep the noise and disturbance down.

Bus stops right outside student rooms and windows!

beaumont bus accommodationI received a very worried email from a student yesterday who’s college accommodation is on Beaumont Street. The County Council has temporarily relocated some bus stops from George Street to right outside his accommodation for the duration of the George Street Closure (several weeks).  As you can see from the picture, the pavement is narrow and the stops really are within centimetres of people’s windows.

The student is understandably concerned because this is a critical time of the year when many students are studying extremely hard and have finals exams in the coming days and weeks. I remember my own finals exams so am acutely aware of what a sensitive time this is for those with exams and how destructive noise disturbance is to study and potentially exam results.

I have today written the Stagecoach and the County Council to try to mitigate or remove the problem and will keep those reading this page updated with any responses I get.  I don’t believe any Oxford Bus Company buses use this route but have also written to them to check.

beaumont busTo Stagecoach (oxford.enquiries@stagecoachbus.com) I wrote:

I’ve had an email from some residents of 5-7 Beaumont Street in central Oxford, very concerned about the temporary bus stops right outside their windows. According to the attached snippet from the Oxford Mail today I think S1, S2, S3, 14, 17 and 18 routes will be using those stops so would you confirm if that is correct, while George Street is closed, and let me know the earliest and latest times that the stops will be serviced by buses please? I am trying to gauge the extent of the disturbance the residents of 5-7 Beaumont Street might be subjected to.

Would you also let me know if there is anything you can do to mitigate the problems of noise that will disturb study and sleep of those living and working at 5-7 Beaumont Street?

To County Highways (highways@oxfordshire.gov.uk) I wrote:

Dear Highways,

I’m afraid there is a serious problem with the relocation of the bus stops from George Street to right outside 5-7 Beaumont Street for the duration of the George Street closure. 5-7 George Street is occupied by some 35 students of Oxford University and many of them are currently studying very hard for their finals exams that are in the coming days and weeks. The bus stop relocation could not have come at a worse time for them as they are at a critical stage of their education and indeed lives. I quote the email from one of them:

“Today myself and the other 35 or so students living in these houses in Beaumont Street have discovered that the Council has installed bus stops directly outside our houses and is intending to use them to serve the bus services that currently run down George Street for 10 weeks. We have received absolutely no notice of this change or proposal, and the College have also informed me that they haven’t received any information about this either. Given that we are all final year students with upcoming exams we are very concerned that what is currently a coach loading bay (used fairly irregularly and only really in daytime hours) and double yellow lines is now going to become several crowded bus stops with dozens of people standing around directly outside of our houses at peak times and into the late evening. We already suffer from quite severe noise from the infrequent use of the coach bay, and are very concerned that this looks likely to worsen severely.”

So I am asking you as the Highways authority if there is any way that the location of these stops can be adjusted so as to reduce the impact on my constituents. Everyone appreciates that the George Street closure is needed but this really is a dreadful time this is to disturb (for about 18 hours per day, 7 days per week) those studying for critical exams. Starting it at the end of June would have been far less disruptive too but I imagine it’s too late to change the schedule now.

Is there anything you can to do help?

So I’ll keep people updated on this and if you are affected I urge you also to write to Stagecoach and to Highways to see if volume of requests to re-think this will have the desired effect.

Update 1151hrs 13 May:  Oxford Bus Co don’t use these stops.  Stagecoach has just sent me a load of timetables.  No reply from County Highways at all.  I have nagged the County Council.

Update 1755 14 May:  I have now spoken with Highways Officers.  There is to be a meeting tomorrow morning (Thursday) to discuss this.  I will speak again to officers first thing to see if the bus stops can be moved a bit further down Beaumont Street to where the first floors of the buildings are not residential accommodation.  This should help a lot.

Update 0839 15 May:  I have just had a really helpful call from a County Council officer.  I feel he completely understand the problem and while the bus stops probably can’t legally be moved in the short time needed, he has agreed to informally ask Stagecoach to see if they can stop a bit further down the road and turn engines off quickly. He’s also going to see about putting some laminated signs on the bus stops asking people to wait quietly as there are residents needing to study very close by.  I’ll monitor the situation – please comment here if you are noticing problems or changes.

Oxford University Student Hustings

coveredWell we’re in election time again!  I had the pleasure of attending the OUSU-organised student hustings last night at Magdalen College where I got to speak for LibDems on student and other City issues.  Here’s what I said:

Hello and thanks for coming to this City Council election hustings tonight. I am Councillor Tony Brett and I’m speaking for all LibDem candidates standing for election to the City Council in the student wards. I’ve been in Oxford over 20 years, since coming as a fresher undergrad, and have served as a councillor for nine years. I’m Oxford’s Deputy Lord Mayor this year.

Let’s get the LibDem thing done first – yes, I am proud to be a LibDem and am proud of Lib Dem policy. No, I am not proud of some things the coalition has done but yes I am proud of the many things LibDems have achieved in government, despite having less than 10% of commons seats and 15% of government seats. No income tax for those earning less than £10k, ending detention of asylum-seeking children, delivering £2.5bn of pupil premium, and protecting freedom of speech are just some of those achievements. I should say also that Oxford LibDems are not in coalition with Tories. There are no Tories on Oxford City Council. It is run by Labour with a LibDem opposition.

So what have we LibDems done and what do we care most about in Oxford? Who has or will live out in a shared house? While we support the council’s attempts to raise standards with the licensing scheme we totally oppose its cap on the numbers of shared houses and its financial penalties on Colleges/University building purpose-built student accommodation. Both these things just make your rents higher and I believe damage the City for everyone. We believe students, as residents just as much as anyone else, have every right to equal housing access as fellow human beings who are a valued and essential part of Oxford’s life and economy.

On homelessness, an issue I know many of you care deeply about, I believe Labour missed a huge opportunity by rejecting a LibDem City Council budget amendment recently to give its support more money following the Tory County Council’s swingeing cuts to this vital social care. I am proud that two of our LibDem candidates, Jean and Conor, nominated the Chair of Oxford Homeless pathways for a Lord Mayor’s Certificate of Honour – which she indeed got! I also volunteer as a Street Pastor – supporting the homelessness and others out on the street in the small hours.

The Covered Market is a jewel in Oxford’s crown and I’ve been appalled at how The Council has tried to bleed it dry with incredibly high rent rises and has reneged on its promise to set the rent an independent arbitrator recommended. It has totally neglected maintenance there too. We LibDems think the covered Market is much more important than that and support it fully.

Who cycles in this room? LibDems have a good track record of pushing hard for safer cycling in Oxford – we want more cycle safety boxes and much better road surfaces and cycle lanes for cyclists. We campaign tirelessly to the Council for improved cycle safety and have had some success.

In full council meetings I have proposed and had cross-party support for motions both on preserving Oxford’s pubs and on human rights for LGBT Russians in our Twin Town of Perm. I was a principal organiser of the first Oxford Pride back in 2003 and I chair of the University’s LGBT Advisory Group, encompassing both staff and students.

Are any of you here student volunteers? We are impressed to see how much support Oxford students give our City, particularly working with lonely, and often elderly, people living right in the City Centre. LibDems fully support that too.

This week saw good news that Oxford University it taking the Living Wage further so everyone working for the University, whether as contractors or staff, will be paid a living wage. This is great news and testament to work the whole City Council, enthusiastically supported by the Lib Dems, in pushing for this.

I hope you’ll agree we’re good for Oxford and give a LibDem your vote in the City Council elections in just over three weeks’ time!

There were some good questions too, about action against violence for women, detention of LGBT asylum seekers, identifying as a feminist, and the immigration bill.

I am pleased to say that I will fully support anything that can be done to help end violence to women and this includes providing more services (like rape crisis and domestic abuse coordinators); better sex and relationship education in schools; more safety initiatives in the community; and more strategic planning by partnership working of bodies like Thames Valley Police and the Oxford Safer Communities Partnership.  I pledge City LibDem support for them all.

On detention of LGBTQ asylum seekers, and indeed detention of any asylum seeker, I think my views are clear that human rights really are being abused by doing that and that asylum seekers come to the UK because they are running for their lives, they are NOT spongers or lazy!  It is just not acceptable to send an LGBTQ person back to a country where their liberty or even the life would be at risk because of the sexuality or gender identity.

I think all candidates agreed that we were feminists and I made a slightly clumsy point say all prostitutes are victims and should not be called girls, as they are vulnerable women (and men).  I was appropriately corrected by Annie Teriba (OUSU Access officer) by being reminded that some women, and men, take a positive choice to work in the sex trade and that if they do then they should be empowered to do that and not criminalised.  The victims I was talking about are those that are enslaved, perhaps by drug dealers, who are being used as a commodity to make money rather than working of their own free will.  Annie and I had a good chat about this afterwards and I was happy to be corrected.

On immigration, again, I see diverse groups of people and people coming to work in the UK as a really good thing.  It boost our economy and gives much better world-vision and harmony to our country.  I abhor the sense that some people are more valid or welcome than others just because of their nationality – that’s absolutely wrong!  I noted that LibDems are the only party that have pinned our flag clearly to the mast on EU membership too.  Labour and the Tories are still dithering and running scared of UKIP.



World Literacy Summit

I had the great pleasure of being part of the opening ceremony of the World Literacy Summit 2014 today. The ceremony was at the Sheldonian Theatre with a lunch afterwards in the famous Divinity School of the Bodleian Library.  Speakers included Dr Anthony Cree, the Chairman of the Summit;  Mr Nigel Portwood, the CEO of Oxford Unviersity Press; Professor Sally Mapstone, the Pro-vice chancellor for Education of Oxford University; Mr David Perrin, the CEO of the Summit, Linda Bakkum, a Youth Ambassador and Ms Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, the Founder-Chairman of the Arab International Women’s Forum.  We also had a recorded message from HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, the patron of the event and a strong advocate of literacy.

world literacy

The theme of the summit was Literacies: the Power to Change. The aims were impressive:

  • Exploring the key issues impacting literacy around the world;
  • Analysing the latest literacy delivery methods and teaching approaches;
  • Increasing awareness of the global literacy crisis;
  • Creating opportunities for each other to collaborate in supporting literacy;
  • Revisiting and updating the Oxford Declaration.

775 million people worldwide are illiterate so it is quite some achievement to bring together more than 70 literacy experts, politicians, civil servants, teachers, business leaders and charities to take some positive action about this.  These events are a great opportunity to hear inspiring insights from world leaders in the field and to enjoy some high-powered debating that will help to shape policy into the future.

Although the conference is global, I am extremely pleased to know that it also shows great local commitment.  Many are engaged in the vital work of supporting literacy in Oxford itself and it’s great that the summit involves Oxford students at University level and below.  It’s good to know there is an ongoing programme of advocacy after the summit, that it sponsors.

Oxford has some of the best education in the world, but sadly it is also home to many children experiencing quite severe deprivation.  Many come to education with extremely low levels of literacy and a significant number do not have English their first language.  As a governor at Oxford Spires Academy I have first-hand knowledge of just how important literacy is to our young students as the gateway and enabler to successful learning. At Oxford Spires we are very proud to ensure that every teacher is a teacher of literacy so I was delighted to be able to take Debbie Clark, our literacy coordinator, along with me to see the life-changing work summits like this encourage.  I know Debbie caught up with some old friends and had some good conversations after the speeches.

I hope the rest of the Summit is a huge success – it certainly deserves to be, as literacy is so important to everyone as a vital enabler to future success.



Opening of Oxonia International University Network

This afternoon’s engagement was to welcome guests to the launch and name unveiling of a new International University Network.  I felt honoured to be among so many distinguished guests and delegates from Higher Education Institutions from over 10 countries, including Oxford and the UK.  I was impressed to see so many vice-chancellors, masters, provosts, presidents and rectors from across the globe at the launch as  it’s a good sign of international support for and gravitas of the network.

oxoniaThe event launched a brand new university network that will enable members to collaborate and share resources as well as have a UK platform that will help them increase the profile of their institutions internationally. This should be of great benefit not only to those institutions but to the communities and countries that they serve.  I am told that the network was founded as a result of international delegates attending an Oxford Academy for Education and Development (OAED) Leadership in Higher Education Programme in May and their wish to forge stronger links with each other, internationally, both with new organisations and also with OAED as the provider of services to the HE sector overseas. That’s a pretty impressive timescale and it’s great to see the start of something new and exciting like this. I hope that many more institutions will see the benefit of joining the network to partner with like-minded organisations for the development of higher education.  I’m pictured with Dr Clark Brundin (centre), the inaugural honorary Chancellor of the Network and with Dr Moghaddam, the Chair of OAED.

I was delighted the next day to to be forwarded a lovely email from the PR manager to the Lord Mayor’s PA saying “Please pass on our sincere thanks to Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Tony Brett for officially opening the Oxonia University Network yesterday. The delegates and guests were very pleased to meet him and we were very re grateful for his kind words. The event was a great success and we have received applications to join the network already. OAED would very much like to thank Tony and your team for your support for our event and we would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.”

That sort of thing make such a difference!

A victory for Gloucester Green residents and their right to sleep at night

roostersI attended a licensing hearing yesterday as ward councillor as I had made a representation against an application for yet another late night takeaway on Gloucester Green. The application was by a food outlet very similar to the other two that are already there with late night licences.

Although I like to see businesses thrive in my ward, there always must be a balance between the needs of business and the needs of residents. The problem with having lots of late night food outlets on Gloucester Green is that it is more-or-less en route to taxis and buses for people leaving the bars and clubs.   Many of these now shut at 3am and do so for most nights of the week what with different themed nights for students, locals, and other groups etc.  The effect of the takeaways is to make the (often drunk and aggressive) people gather and it makes it very hard for the Police to encourage them to go home.  As Thames Valley Police said at the hearing there has been a marked increase in crime and disorder or Gloucester Green since the later food outlets have been open and this is in direct contravention to the licensing objective of reducing crime and disorder.  Although CCTV and SIA-registered door supervisors were requested, these still won’t stop drunk people making a lot of noise and causing much public nuisance for the residents of Gloucester Green – the flats called the Chilterns and the Heyes.  Prevention of public nuisance is another licensing objective that the licensing act says licences should encourage.  It seemed clear to me that this one would not do that.

In my speech I did suggest it might be just about bearable to allow this new business to trade until 2am and that would mean it closed before most of the club but unfortunately the applicant was not able or willing to pay for door supervisors so in the end the panel made what I think was the right decision and rejected the application in its entirety.  This means the outlet will not be allowed to trade past 11pm, as is the current situation.

I have written to all residents of Gloucester Green today to tell them this good news and hope it might well be the start of a move to cut back the hours of some of the other food outlets in the area so that they don’t attract the crime and disorder and public nuisance that is currently blighting Gloucester Green in the small hours at a totally unacceptable level.

This blog post has no official status as a record of the licensing hearing and I can’t guarantee it’s error free so please don’t rely on it. Written notification of the decision is available from the Council.

Licensing hearing for Christmas Light Festival

I attended this evening’s licensing hearing and spoke on behalf of a St. Giles college that had concerns about the disruption the three day Christmas Light event on 22-24 would cause to it, particularly in terms of noise disturbance to those living on St. Giles with windows directly out to it, and such extensive road closures and parking suspensions, over a whole weekend in full Oxford University Term.  An extremely different proposition to St. Giles’ Fair which happens after most tourists have left Oxford post-summer and before most students have arrived back.  The City Council has a web page with more information about Christmas Light Festival.

The license application has reference 13/02305/PREM and you can see some extremely rudimentary information about it online.  I’m not sure why the council has not put adequate information there – I have asked!   The outcome was that the license was granted but with some changes. It is a perpetual license but there is a robust review process in place so if there are problems this year (I fear there may well be) then I will request a review of the license as soon as reasonably practical after the event. A future licensing panel can amend or revoke a license just as easily as it grants it!

Following discussion the applicant volunteered that there will be no licensable activities on Beaumont Street and the provision of late night food has also been removed from the application. That means the kebab vans will stay on St. Giles (and will be allowed to trade as normal as they have their own licenses). I am told that alcohol sales from some stands will be licensed by Temporary Event Notice.  These can only be objected to by the Police so I have asked Thames Valley Police to watch out for them and consider the effect they will have on a city that will already be full of drunk people on Friday and Saturday evening.

Regulated entertainment (live or recorded music, performance of dance and exhibition of films) hours have been cut back a little to:

Friday noon-10pm
Saturday 10am-10pm
Sunday 10am-7pm

The following conditions were imposed:

1. Notification of dates of future events to be at least 12 months in advance to all stakeholders and this will include all stakeholders fronting St. Giles.

2. There must be a stakeholder meeting six months in advance of each annual event.

3. During the event a 24 hour control room will operate to allow anyone with complaint or grievance to address them with an appropriate person.

4. A draft event plan will be submitted to the Safety Advisory Group at least 60 days before the event.

5. A noise management plan will be prepared and submitted to the licensing authority for approval.

6. No amplified live entertainment on Sunday between 10am and 12.15pm

And some informatives about keeping noise down while the event is being built on Thursday night and taken down on Sunday night.

I am unimpressed by this but I think it is probably realistically all that was going to be conceded at this stage.  I just hope those that come to the festival stop and think about how they would fee about three days of their own road being closed and lots of noise outside their bedroom windows for three nights.

This blog post has no official status and I can’t guarantee it’s error free so please don’t rely on it. Written notification of the decision is available from the Council.

A meeting about Christmas light night

consultationJean Fooks and I met today with two council officers and a contractor about the events planned for 22-24 November in the City Centre to Celebrate Christmas light night.

We made quite a few points but the main one was about our fears that such a long closure of so many City Centre roads would cause utter havoc for the thousands of City Centre residents who had not been consulted about the event.  I also had not been consulted as a ward councillor which I find frankly staggering for an event of such size and disruption.  There are many disabled and inform people extremely worried that they will not be able to get to their regular places of worship on the Sunday too.

I am not very sure our points were taken very seriously and it does increasingly like councillors who are not part of the Labour administration really are not taken seriously by the paid staff and that the need to consult us as ward councillors doesn’t really seem to register.

I wish the City Council would understand that Oxford University is not just an historic backdrop against which it can do what it likes, but rather a busy and active world-leading centre of excellence in education and research.  I don’t think it is reasonable to disrupt that so comprehensively in what is the height of University term.  Without the University there would be very little of Oxford – it is one of the main wealth-creators of the City and certainly one of the biggest employers.  The City Council would do well to remember that before it tramples all over its activities with such massive disruption.


Freshers’ Fair

freshersI took a couple of hours out over lunch today to join the Oxford University Liberal Democrats on their stall at Oxford University’s Freshers Fair.  I had some really good conversations with lots of new students and lots were asking interesting questions.  It was interested being sandwiched between the Labour and Tory tables  and hearing some other conversations too.  We signed up dozens and dozens of new members so I look forward to an exciting year of events with this important student society.  I’m pictured here with Andy McKay (Wadham), the current Social and Events Officer.