I met at 9am today with Sara Fernandez and a colleague at G&Ds on Cowley Road. They explained to me how the Oxford Hub is the focal point for charitable activity at Oxford University. Soon, they’re going to bid for a building, at 16-17 Turl Street, so the can open a multi-purpose venue for community benefit.
This looks like a good use of a building on Turl Street that has had a rather chequered history in the last few years and could do with a more permanent use. I may have to take decisions as a councillor about this so will keep my powder dry on it at the moment other than to say it looks like a good idea and a good use of the building to me.
An interesting meeting tonight. Oscar is a good chair and keeps things moving along well. Now we are 4 LibDem and 4 Labour members we have agreed, I think, to have alternating LibDem and Labour Chairs. Probably Oscar and Mark. More about Central South and West Area Committee
The main business of the meeting was planning applications. The first was for a replacement mobile phone mast 10cm taller than the existing one that was given permission on appeal by a planning inspector. The committee refused the permission although I refrained from voting, having only just been elected and not visited the site. I also fear the grounds for rejection, given the precedent set by the planning inspector, are weak and that we may get our decision overturned and costs awarded against us.
We also had long and interesting presentations from the planning officers and representatives of Oxford University on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter development. We were just commenting on, rather than determining, the application and we were all wholeheartedly in favour of it. We expressed a desire to take serious action on the safety of pedestrain and cycle approaches to the site, particularly from the West, and I expressed a hope that some of the buildings that will be vacated by the University when departments move into ROQ might be considered for use as further student accommodation.
Very efficient Council Officers at Oxford City! I’ve now signed my declaration and received my ID card. All very quick and easy.
I also met a new councillor from another party who I know well. I was sorry to see that party tribalism is alive and kicking as that councillor studiously ignored me despite me extending greetings.
This evening I get to attend my first LibDem group meeting since 2006 when I was last a member of Oxford City Council.
I am now a member of Oxford City Council representing Carfax Ward, which is essentially the western half of the City Centre. I am excited to be back on the council and pleased to have a ward that has an interesting mix of all types of accommodation and people including social housing, private apartments, heads of houses, lots of students and lots more.
I will try to blog here as often as I can with my activities as a councillor.
I start today at 3pm by signing my declaration of acceptance of office and receiving my new councillor pack.
Time to clear some space in the filing cabinet methinks!