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.

Proposal for two-way traffic on Becket Street

I’ve also had notification from the County Council of a proposal to change Becket Street to two-way and to move some of its on-street parking to Osney Lane.  The idea is to enable traffic going West-South from Botley Road to Abingdon Road to avoid Frideswide Square in advance of the major works planned to it in spring of 2015.

The plan is here and if you click it you’ll get a bigger version.


The deadline for comments is quite short so please let me know what you think or if you have any questions asap and I’ll also forward any comments left here on this post to the County Council in about a week.

Proposal to change a major junction

I’ve been notified by the County Council of a major change to the junction of Worcester Street/Hythe Bridge Street and George Street to open it up to four-way traffic so that some traffic does not have to loop all the way round Hythe Bridge Street and Park End Street any more.  Traffic going East on Hythe Bridge Street would still only be able to go left into Worcester Street but traffic from all other directions would be able to turn in any direction.  There would also be share cycle/pedestrian features on some corners.  I think these are a good idea as if so many cyclists are jumping red-lights any way, the pragmatic way to deal with that is to design in a safe way of them being able to avoid those red signals in the first place.  You can see the plan here, and you’ll get a large version if you click it.


Time is short on this consultation so if you have any views or questions please do let me or the County Council know as quickly as you can.  I will also forward all comments added to this blog post.


A walk around Carfax Ward

walkaboutI spent a couple of hours this morning walking around Carfax Ward with officers from Street Scene, Housing, and Highways.  The map to the right shows the rough route we took.  You can click it to see a bigger verion.

We encountered quite a few issues and I will certainly be following them up in the coming days and weeks.  To list a few:


pb graffiti


Lots of graffiti in the Southern part of the ward, near Rose Place.  I will get this reported and hopefully removed if building owners can be found so they can give permission



IMG_20140405_174030Neglected communal garden at Albert House – I’ve written to residents about this and housing officers have said they will see if they can get community payback to do some work there.  As the landlord, the City Council should have been maintaining it.






Lots of Cigarette Butts on the pavement outside the Castle Pub.  This was dealt with very quickly but I will ask the owners/managers if they can fit some ashtrays to the railings outside the pub.




IMG_20140402_105336Flytipping on Woodin’s Way near the old Lion Brewery.  I’ll get this reported so it is quickly removed.





IMG_20140402_111751Unsightly gatherings of commercial waste bins around Gloucester Green.  Officers said they would look at installing some fencing to contain these bins so they don’t look quite as awful.




IMG_20140402_113748Graffiti on the railings around Wellington Square – I’ll get this reported so it can be removed and see if some money can be found to repaint the railings as they are looking rather tatty.




Screenshot_2014-04-05-15-23-39Very dangerous road surface on Banbury Road by St Gile’s church.  This is just outside the ward boundary but I wanted to mention it because I work so close to there and see it causing cyclists to wobble into the path of (often quite fast) traffic coming north from St. Giles. I’m disappointed with this one that I have previously been told by highways officers that it requires no work.  There seemed no harm in asking again.



The morning’s walkabout was useful as a ward walk and I am grateful to officers for the time they gave to do this.  I hope all the issues I will follow up on are dealt with effectively and I will certainly be keeping an eye out!


Rip-off parking charges at the ice rink

Parking info at Oxford

I received an email today from someone who lives away from Oxford and normally takes her daughter to Milton Keynes ice rink for regular skating practice.  That rink is currently closed for refurbishment so she brings her to Oxford.  Her email was about the fact that the City Council appears to have changed the parking arrangements such that there is no longer a free hour concession for those who pay the overnight midnight to 8am charge so charges don’t stack up and make things unfair on early, regular and dedicated skaters and/or their parents.  It appears the concession was dropped silently and when challenged (point 3 on the sign below clearly says it was there) the sign was also removed silently.  This means that although the normal parking charge during the day is £4.10 for two hours, if someone parks between 7.30am and 8.30am, for example, they have to pay a £2.50 night charge for the first half hour of that slot and then another £2.50 charge for the second half hour as it is in daytime.  This is £5 for one hour as against £4.10 for two hours if they had arrived after 8am.

This hardly seems fair and hardly seems a sensible way for the City Council to be attracting more use of its sports facilities.  I have asked the service manager to look into this but have not had an answer after nearly a week so I am also asking the portfolio holder for City Leisure a question at full council next week.  Watch this space!

Traffic problems from 7th-21st April in Frideswide Square area

I’ve received notification that there are to be major works on Hollybush Row from 7th April that will probably cause traffic chaos for a couple of weeks.  Thank goodness it’s the school holidays!


The issue is that there is a collapsed sewer with a fat-berg in it so the whole road is going to have to be excavated to sort it out.  Please let me know if there are any specific problems that I can help with.  You can click the picture above for a larger version.

100 years of buses in Oxford

oldbusThis morning I had the privilege of riding on a very old bus on a journey to commemorate 100 years of bus services in Oxford.  We started at the BMW museum in Cowley and travelled all the way to Oxford Station then back along Queen Street.  The old buses are looked after by the amazing volunteers of the Oxford Bus Museum Trust.  I was made to feel very welcome and learned some amazing facts about Oxford’s long bus history including how they were preceded by horse-drawn trams but that Oxford never had electric trams because colleges wouldn’t allow the hooks in their walls for the necessary cable suspension.

The bus we were in had no power steering and a “crash” gearbox, meaning no synchromesh.  Despite this it was dirven very expertly and smoothly by one of the museum trust volunteers and a long-time bus driver.


Pretty impressive work by City Council streetscene team



On Monday, I reported that the bike markings going into Wellington Square from Little Clarendon Street were very badly faded and that this was sometimes causing conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. I reported this to streetscene@oxford.gov.uk



I am very impressed that by yesterday evening the lines were re-painted. A big thank you and well done to the council staff that did this. I’m very grateful as I’m sure are all those that use that route regularly, live or work near it.

I know this seems like a small thing but things like this are quite important to lots of people and it’s great to see the Council being so helpful and responsive.

A problem with a taxi rank location in the new Westgate Development?


I had a meeting with a council officer today to discuss concerns about a proposed taxi rank as part of the new Westgate Development that looks to me like it will be incredibly close to residential accommodation on Pike Terrace and Faulkner Street in my ward.  My concern is that in the small hours it will attract a lot of noise and antisocial behaviour from people leaving clubs and bars and that this will disturb a lot of residents in the area.

There is a very good consultation site about the west gate development and I recommend you have a look and give any feedback you want to give via that.

See http://www.westgateoxfordconsultation.co.uk/ and follow the navigation in the top right.

The City Council wants your views on Oxpens

Oxford City Council is launching a public consultation on a planning document that will help shape the future of Oxpens.

The Oxpens site, between Oxford Railway Station, the Westgate Centre and the River Thames, represents one of the most significant development opportunities in the city centre and has the potential to make a valuable contribution to the life and economy of the local area and Oxford as a whole.

The document, known as the Oxpens Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), will help to establish appropriate uses for the Oxpens site, which could include houses and flats, offices, research & development (R&D) space, local amenities, green open space, a hotel and a public square. The development is also expected to bring regeneration benefits for neighbouring residents, such as improved public transport and better vehicle, cycle and pedestrian links to the city and surrounding areas.

Oxford City Council has an adopted Core Strategy and West End Area Action Plan which outline the policies for development at the Oxpens site. The purpose of the SPD is to determine how these policies can be interpreted and implemented, and to set out the Council’s aspirations for the site, such as the preferred mix of housing, employment uses, open space and community facilities.

Could you take a few minutes to complete the survey about this, which is open from Monday 17 June until Monday 29 July 2013?  I’ve turned off comments on this post as they really need to be put in the survey.  Thanks!