Dignity action day with the National Pensioners Conference

Dignity Action Day PosterI attended this event today as Deputy Lord Mayor and was very pleased to open it with a few words of support and thanks.  It was a joint event of the Oxfordshire Unison Retired Members branch, the National Pensioners Conference and the Oxfordshire Pensioners Action Group.

The most inspirational speaker was Rodney Bickerstaffe (pictured), a former president of the National Pensioners Convention, and I really enjoyed his message and the passion with which he delivered it.

We all know that we are an ageing nation – thanks to improved lifestyles and improved health care people are living longer. Many people who are past working age give a huge amount to our City and beyond in the stunning amount of voluntary work they do and I am hugely grateful for that.


I firmly believe that those of us of working age or younger have a duty to ensure proper dignity for older people all around us. Dignity throughout life is so important to health and well-being and it gets no less important later in life. Any type of age-based discrimination is utterly unacceptable in our society and I think the Dignity Code encompasses that extremely well.  The Dignity Code is an excellent guide for everyone in any interactions they have with older people and I hope will be extremely useful – I will certainly be using it in my future thinking and planning as a councillor.

As I think it’s so useful, here’s the Dignity Code in full:

The purpose of this Dignity Code is to uphold the rights and maintain the personal dignity of older people, within the context of ensuring the health, safety and well being of those who are increasingly less able to care for themselves or to properly conduct their affairs.

This Code recognises that certain practices and actions are unacceptable to older people, such as:

• Being abusive or disrespectful in any way, ignoring people or assuming they cannot do things for themselves
• Treating older people as objects or speaking about them in their presence as if they were not there
• Not respecting the need for privacy
• Not informing older people of what is happening in a way that they can understand
• Changing the older person’s environment without their permission
• Intervening or performing care without consent
• Using unnecessary medication or restraints
• Failing to take care of an older person’s personal appearance
• Not allowing older people to speak for themselves, either directly or through the use of a friend, relative or advocate
• Refusing treatment on the grounds of age

This Code therefore calls for:

• Respect for individuals to make up their own minds, and for their personal wishes as expressed in ‘living wills’, for implementation when they can no longer express themselves clearly
• Respect for an individual’s habits, values, particular cultural background and any needs, linguistic or otherwise
• The use of formal spoken terms of address, unless invited to do otherwise
• Comfort, consideration, inclusion, participation, stimulation and a sense of purpose in all aspects of care
• Care to be adapted to the needs of the individual
• Support for the individual to maintain their hygiene and personal appearance
• Respect for people’s homes, living space and privacy
• Concerns to be dealt with thoroughly and the right to complain without fear of retribution
• The provision of advocacy services where appropriate


Launch of the Old Museum at the Town Hall

image003I attended this opening as I wanted to see the new space this project has made and to hear about the project.  I was impressed at how much material the museum has and see it as a really useful orientation point for newcomers to Oxford City and to tourists alike.

The launch celebrated the development of The Old Museum – a unique heritage space dedicated to high quality cultural events and fundraising within the Museum of Oxford. This space will play a key role in the long term capital development project to expand the Museum of Oxford and its community engagement programmes. The City Council has plans for The Old Museum space and at the launch visitors were enjoying live performances from Dancin’ Oxford and Oxford Contemporary Music.

museumI think the space, pictured, will be a very useful and welcome addition to the City Centre’s meeting spaces available for use.

Imminent risk of flooding of properties in West Oxford: Bulstake Close, Earl Street, Duke Street, Osney Court

floodDuring the night and today water levels have continued to rise. The Environment Agency advises that they are likely to continue to rise for the next 24hours.  At Bulstake Close during the night water started to significantly pass under and around the barrier and in the early hours Oxford City Council staff had to move to the next stage and in a controlled manner allowed water to cross the Botley Road but guided away from the houses in Bulstake Close and Duke and Earl street.

The situation is now becoming serious and staff are not sure that they can cope with the volume of water and continue to protect the properties. Accordingly a joint operation with the Environment Agency, The County Council, The Fire and Rescue Service and Thames Valley Police commenced at 4pm advising householders of the risk of flooding, sensible precautions, evacuation and rest centre arrangements.  This is the advisory note which you should read if you live in that area.

Things to do are:

1. Move any valuable belongings off the ground floor and consider what you will do with your car if it is not in use – please bear in mind that emergency services may need access

2. Make arrangements to vacate your home for at least a few days (can you stay with family / friends?)

3. Check with any insurer, whether the cost of temporary accommodation will be covered – if not, then there is a reception centre, Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, where the council will assess your requirements and assist you in finding accommodation – transport will be provided for those who need it

4. If you can – block airbricks, protect doorways, put down toilet bungs for ground floor lavatories

5. Switch off your electricity/gas

6. Keep yourself up-to-date with the latest information on the radio, website, facebook / twitter etc.

Agencies are continuing to monitor the situation in the other areas of the city which are vulnerable which is serious but not critical. There is a 24/7 operation from the Emergency Control Centre in St Aldate’s Chambers.

Please also keep an eye on these websites:



The Oxford Mail has a useful blog with updates too.

Emergency phone numbers are:

Police, Ambulance, Fire 999 (emergencies only)
Thames Valley Police 101 (non-emergency)
Oxford City Council out-of-hours 01865 249811
Thames Water 08459 200 800
Southern Electric 08457 444 555
National Grid (if you smell gas, call from a telephone outside your home) 0800 111 999
Oxford Fire & Rescue (non-emergency) 01865 842999

Carols with the Mayor of Abingdon

abingdon carols 1I had a great time this evening singing carols with the community in Abingdon.  It was a carol service with a difference in that it was held in the Aroma Coffee shop in the centre of town.  We were treated to some music by the Abingdon Society of Bell Ringers before the service started.  I joined Sam Bowring, the Mayor of Abingdon, and some

of the members of Abingdon Baptist church for a good sing and some traditional readings.  The coffee and cakes were pretty good too!

abingdon carols 2


Opening Oxford’s Christmas Market

christmas marketI was  pleased to be able to open the Oxford Christmas Market today at its new location on Broad Street after a long campaign to get it allowed to be there.  It consists of about 40 stalls with all sorts of exciting food and Christmas gifts.  From what I can see it all looks to be really high quality and as far as I can see there is no amplified speech or music so it should happily co-exist with local colleges, businesses and residents.

Christmas Markets are a wonderful tradition and while this one is not new to Oxford, it is new to Broad Street and I wish it a really successful and joyous time here.  It’s great to have it so near to the Covered Market, another jewel in Oxford’s crown, and I sincerely hope both markets will be of mutual benefit to each other at this time of Christmas shopping both for presents and provisions.

I’m very grateful to everyone who has been involved in making this event happen – all the council officers, the Broad Street Stakeholder Group who have been so helpful and constructive in the planning of this event and particularly to Nicole Rahimi, the person whose inspiration and vision has made all this possible. I also want to thank surrounding colleges, residents and businesses for being so tolerant of this event right on their doorsteps. I do hope it will be a success from now until 22 December and that everyone will be able to go about their day to day business without being disturbed – this particularly applies to all the sixth formers up in Oxford for University interviews at this time!

parentsI’m grateful also to all the traders who have taken up stalls in this market and to those who have helped build such a lovely set up. I do hope many people from Oxford and surrounding area will come along and enjoy the magical atmosphere. Local choirs and bands will perform Christmas carols throughout the coming 10 days, adding to the festive feel!

It was really good to have my parents up at the event too.  Here we are eating churros and chocolate!  Photos are courtesy of Dad.

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!

Hidden Spire: How lucky are you?


I have the great privelege of attending the first night of the show at Crisis Skylight Oxford in partnership with Arts at the OFS tonight and I must say I really enjoyed it.  It was a moving performance with about half the cast being fmo Oxford’s homeless community.  There were some really thought provoking moments, some good acting and some good music.  Highly recommended.  Rather than take it from me, I take the liberty of adding an extract from a much better review by Helen Ward of Daily Information.

“Despite a running time of just over an hour, How Lucky Are You? is a surprisingly thought-provoking and ultimately positive exploration of the theme of change and upheaval. Drawing strongly on their own experiences, the homeless members of the company have spent last four months working with a professional creative team to create a unique piece of theatre – an experience director Liz McBain described as “inspiring”.  Another member of the company told Daily Info, that the piece reflects the way in which homeless people often come together to form intensely caring and supportive families.”

Intercultural Mass

intercultureI attended inter-cultural Mass today as a sign of how much Oxford as a City values its cultural diversity.  It was good to be welcomed by the Catholic Caribbean Association and I was impressed to see that these inter-cultural masses have been held in Blackbird Leys for over 20 years.

Faith plays a very important part in any society so I was very happy to see everyone together  to share their faith journeys, faith experiences and to celebrate mass. Our City is one of many faiths and one of the things I have really enjoyed so far in my year of being Deputy Lord Mayor is the diversity of events and the fine traditions of all the faiths in our City.

I am grateful to to Olive Smith and members of the Catholic Caribbean Community for all their hard work over the years in making these important events happen.

It’s a real joy that through shared faith we can bring our many different cultures together in events like this – it was a wonderful celebration to the glory of God and to our continued faith journeys together across our different cultures and in peace and harmony and with respect for each other.

Needless to say, as with many faith-based events, there was wonderful food afterwards and a chance for lots more good fellowship and good conversations about all the good works done by the Catholic Community of Blackbird Leys and beyond.

Carols at Crisis

choirI went to a good event this evening at Oxford’s Crisis Skylight Centre.  I was pleased to be invited as this centre is in my ward and it has has support from my ward money allocation for the last two years.  We were treated to some nice mince pies and mulled punch and eleven separate carols, all well-known and all well-sung by the choir of Wesley Memorial Church, just round the corner.


We in the audience also sang, slightly less well!  The evening was rounded off by a prayer and blessing frrom Rev Martin Wellings, minister of Wesley Memorial Church.

On the way home along Cornmarket it struck me that Oxford City Council has done a good job on the Christmas lights this year – they look very good!

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.