We asked, you said, we did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We asked

An online public consultation was conducted by Oxford City Council over an 8-week period, running from December 4th, 2023, to January 31st, 2024. The consultation aimed to gather feedback from residents regarding the council's proposal to revoke the existing 23 Smoke Control Areas in Oxford and replace them with a single Smoke Control Area covering the entire administrative area of the city.

The consultation comprised a series of questions aimed at gauging residents' opinions and experiences related to smoke control measures and their impact. Questions covered topics such as residency within the city, existing exposure to smoke control areas, personal experiences with smoke nuisance, types of heating appliances used at home, awareness of health impacts from wood burning, familiarity with council awareness campaigns, and agreement with the proposed expansion of Smoke Control Area legislation.

You said

Based on the responses received during the consultation, several key findings and concerns were identified:

  • Most respondents expressed support for expanding Smoke Control Area legislation, although some were unsure or had reservations.
  • Concerns were raised regarding the potential impact on vulnerable populations and the need for adequate compensation.
  • Comments highlighted broader concerns about air quality, enforcement measures, awareness raising, and inclusion of boating communities.
  • Residents emphasised the importance of ongoing communication and education on smoke control issues.
  • Some expressed concerns about potential unintended consequences, such as a shift to non-sustainable fuels or insufficient time for appliance changes.
  • Respondents noted that urban bonfires were a source of smoke and nuisance.

We did

These insights informed the council's decision-making process and future actions regarding the proposed expansion of Smoke Control Area legislation in Oxford.

 

Read more on our Smoke Control Areas

We asked

Oxford Health and Oxford City Council met in the Summer of 2023 to discuss an opportunity to create a city funded electric taxi rank bay at the JR hospital in the context of the Go Ultra Low Taxi (T-GULO) project. We are delighted to announce that we have agreed with the hospital to install two E-taxi rank bays.

Oxford City Council therefore gave notice that it intended to locate a new Hackney Carriage rank at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Oxford under the provisions of Section 63 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976

Location:- John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Oxford – 3.6 metres from the outside of the entrance to the Children’s Hospital, West Wing, for a distance of 13 metres northwards, to accommodate 2 vehicles (E-taxis only).

The rank will be accessible daily, 24 hours a day

A public consultation was conducted for a period of 28 days. The question was asked if persons agreed or disagreed to the addition of the rank and what comments, if any, they had.

You said

There were responses in support to proposed rank, there were concerns that the space should be for disabled persons.

We did

It is important to note that all of our licensed Hackney Carriages are wheelchair accessible and can assist in the transportation of persons with disabilities.

The results of the consultation will be analysed and a decision will be made by the relevant officers and committee’s whether adoption is suitable. 

We asked

For people’s views on the current policy in regards to emissions criteria for licensed Hackney Carriage Vehicles.

You said

The responses in favour of keeping the policy as it currently is along with being in favour of changing the implementation date.

We did

The results of the consultation will now be put before the General Purposes Licensing Committee.

We asked

Following a request from the City of Oxford Licensed Taxi Association to amend the Hackney Carriage Tariff for Oxford City, we asked for view on the proposed new tariff.

You said

There was an overwhelming response in support to proposed new tariff, there was however some concerns in relation to the use of tariff 2 for weekend and late-night economy work along with some concerns that the tariff would be too expensive as proposed.

We did

The results of the consultation will now be put before the Vice Chair of the General Purposes Licensing Committee and following discussions with the Licensing Authority and Legal Services a further report will be put before the Full Council.

We asked

We asked for the public’s views on the option for a “Little Wheels and Wet Play Park” in Hinksey Park on the old Hinksey Splash site.  

You said

  • 311 people surveys completed. A very high response rate, demonstrating the importance of this play facility, both to the local community and beyond 

  • 80% of respondents used the former splash facility 

  • Postcode analysis reveals respondents are from within the local community, wider city and across Oxfordshire. This confirms Hinksey is a destination park that needs to meet the desired play provision of a wide catchment area 

  • 74% thought the enclosure should be open all year round 

  • 74% supported the idea of a dedicated space where younger children can develop their motor skills on balance bikes 

  • When asked if their children would use a Little Wheels & Wet Play Park, the majority 68% said they were very sure or somewhat sure they would use the facility. 17% said they were somewhat unsure or very unsure 

  • Some respondents were in favour of the multi-use design, whereas some had concerns about combining the two facilities within the same enclosure 

  • Other respondents suggested alternative idea’s including a café, natural play, imaginative & creative play and something for older children. 

We did

The results of the consultation have provided evidence to support a large external funding application to the FCC Community Action Fund. This funding is not guaranteed, and the project would also be reliant on other sources of funding yet to be agreed. We will find out in March whether the funding applications have been successful. 

We asked

We asked for the public's views on a new Dog Control Public Spaces Protection Order.  The Order would last for three years and apply to the whole of the Oxford City local authority area. 

The Order would create the following offences:

  1. A person must put their dog on a lead if required to do so by an authorised officer.
  2. A person may not be in charge of any more than four dogs in a public place.
  3. A person in charge of a dog must pick up their dog’s faeces.
  4. A person in charge of a dog must not let it enter a children’s play park.

The Order would not apply to private land and there were exemptions for assistance dogs.

You said

  • Over 150 people responded to the survey with:
    • 85% of respondents disagree with allowing dogs into children’s play parks. 
    • 92% of respondents felt that owners should pick up their dog mess anywhere in the city.
    • 69% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that dog owners should not be restricted on the number of dogs under their control at any one time.
    • 85% of respondents said that owners should put their dog on a lead if asked by a Council or Police Officer.
    • 77% of respondents agreed that dogs should be kept on leads at all times in the city centre.

We did

Oxford City Council's Cabinet met on the 13th and approved the Order.  Council Officers, the police and other approved persons can enforce the Order.

We asked

We asked whether the proposed policies were easy to understand and gave a clear explanation of how decisions were made in relation to residential enforcement.

You said

Details of how to appeal the decisions should be included in the policies and details of the training that officers, who carry out such enforcement work.

We did

We have amended the draft policies to include details of the appeal procedure and the training that officers receive. A report is being submitted to Cabinet in January 24 for approval of there-drafted policies.

We asked

Firstly, we asked questions about our local council tax reduction scheme design for next year.

We asked how much we should increase the income bands, in line with the large increases in inflation last year. Each income band determines how much support a household can claim towards their council tax charge.

We asked if adult residents within the household should be expected to help pay the council tax charge.

We asked if letters should be moved online, rather than posted out

We also asked if the law had changed and it impacted on a council tax charge whether we should be allowed to backdate an application for council tax reduction by more than a month, which is the current maximum backdate.

Secondly, for existing Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit customers we asked some customer satisfaction questions:

  • How quickly should we process an application for benefit or a change to your circumstances?
  • How do you prefer to contact us?
  • How do you use online services?
  • Do you understand our letters?
  • How satisfied are you with our service?

You said

A majority of respondents, 79%, agreed or strongly agreed with using income bands to decide how much support people should get towards paying their council tax.

A majority of respondents, 72% agreed or strongly agreed that the income bands should be increased by 10.1%, the rate of inflation.

Around half, 56% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with increasing the bands by a lower amount of 5%. Around a third, 29% disagreed and the rest were not sure.

A majority of 60% of respondents agreed that adult household members should contribute towards paying the council tax charge. Just under a third of respondents disagreed, 27%, and the rest were unsure.

There was a much more even spilt when we asked if we should move letters regarding council tax reduction online, rather than send by post 46% agreed, 43% disagreed.

A clear majority, 76% were in favour of us allowing more than a month to backdate an application where a law has changed putting a council tax charge back further than one month.

For those customers who are receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction the results were.

The most popular answer for how long you think a reasonable time to process a new application for Benefit was 1-2 weeks at 34%, with the second most popular being within a month at 30%.

The most popular answer of how long you think is reasonable to process a change in your circumstances was 1-2 weeks at 38%. Within a month received 23% of votes and within one week 22%.

The contact methods were ranked as follows in terms of most popular to least popular:

  1. Email
  2. Letter
  3. Phone
  4. Online
  5. Face to Face
  6. Home Visit
  7. Other

In terms of online services a clear majority do have access to online services at 93%, but a third of respondents prefer to use a different contact method.

 

A majority, 79% of respondents reported that they could understand the letter that was sent to them, although we did receive a lot of feedback in the comments on improvements to the letters that we are taking on board.

Overall, a majority of people reported positive customer satisfaction, but again we are working through all the comments received.

  • Very Good 33%
  • Good 36%
  • Average 23%
  • Poor 6%
  • Very poor 2%

We did

We have shared your feedback on our council tax reduction scheme proposals with senior managers and our local councillors who will look at the design for next year’s council tax reduction scheme. Your feedback will help to shape this scheme.

We are using the feedback on how quickly you think is reasonable to process a new application and change of circumstances to set our targets. We will work towards these and if we are not meeting them put plans in place to improve.

Your contact preferences will be taken into account when we look at which services are available, opening hours and staffing levels for these services. We will also use it to consider any future changes to these.

Feedback on how you use our online services is useful when we make decisions whether to move more of our contact online. We can see how many customers will need to have an alternative contact method available.

Thank you for your feedback on our letters. We are going to review the letters that we send out to make sure that they are easy to read and to understand the complex information that we need to provide.

Thank you for providing feedback on your overall satisfaction. We report within the council on this. We will listen to all the feedback provided, comments on the service and suggestions made to see where we can improve. Thank you also to those who gave positive feedback on the service that we are providing.

We asked

We asked for views on the outline design plans for the new burial meadow from 3rd – 23rd July 2023 to gain a better understanding of the views of stakeholders, future users, and members of the public to ensure the strongest design and project solutions are developed.

The ‘country park’ style scheme design of the new greenspace and burial meadow provides the public service of new burial space for Oxford within a strong landscape framework appropriate to the character of the site. The scheme includes improvements to tree cover, boundary hedges, and will improve the biodiversity of the site and enhance the public access.

The consultation included the following elements to ensure it was well publicised, and that a range of key groups were notified, and had the opportunity to submit comments.

  • Press release to the media and via social media sites linking to the project page on the Council website
  • An online survey consultation on the outline designs
  • Notifications to the Residents Panel; Locality Managers; Interfaith Forum; older persons and disabled persons organisations; and faith groups.
  • Drop in events at the Town Hall, and Horspath Village Hall

You said

A high number of people provided feedback on the outline design of the burial meadow. Most people fed back through the online survey - 439 in total, with 11 people attending the Horspath Village drop in event, and 4 people attending the Town Hall drop in event.

91% of respondents were in favour of the new greenspace and burial meadow.

While 90% of respondents said their purpose of visiting the site would be for a burial event, 43% said they would use the site for a walk / contemplation, and 28% said they would access wider countryside walks or Shotover Woods from their visit to the site.

In terms of means of transport to the site: 64% of respondents would use a car; 31% would consider using a bike; 20% the bus; 7% a taxi, and 5% a scooter.

Ideas for improvement included the following: hand washing point; timber shelter for use in heavy rain and that can function as gathering space for prayer; access near grave plots; boot brush point; more cycle parking; room for green burials; water point for people to use.

We did

The information from the consultation was taken on board by the design team and used to help shape the next design phase. A planning application has now been submitted and there is another consultation stage as part of the planning process.

We asked

We carried out a follow up to the Preferred Options consultation dedicated specifically to the question of housing need, as the necessary evidence was not immediately available for the first round.  We had commissioned studies to collect evidence on the level of housing need in Oxford, and we invited public comments on the findings of the studies and the methods that were used.

You said

We have prepared a summary of all the comments received and produced a report which is available to view here on our webpages.

We did

We have produced a draft Local Plan for submission to the Government for examination.  This draft plan containing policies that have been informed by the feedback from the Preferred Options Consultations, including policies relating to housing provision and site allocations. 

It is possible to comment on the housing and site allocation policies in the ongoing Local Plan Regulation 19 Consultation, after which the plan will be formally submitted.

We asked

A public consultation on the draft Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy for 2023-28 during a period of 6 weeks, starting 26th November and ending 8th December 2022. This was a statutory consultation – all local authorities have to consult on their draft homelessness and rough sleeping strategy before this is finalised and implemented.

The focus of the consultation was to hear if we had set out the right commitments and plans to achieve the priorities we have established for the strategy.

The consultation was available to the public on the Council’s consultation website. The online survey was promoted widely, primarily through social media, but also through the Council’s Tenants in Touch magazine, on our Choice Based Lettings website, press releases and through sharing information directly with a wide range of community groups and partner organisations.

In addition to the online survey, we sought views from the community through other means, including attending community events, holding a session with individuals who have lived experience of homelessness, held a session with the Council’s Tenants Ambassadors. We also engaged with key partners, holding five stakeholder workshops to seek their views on our commitments and how we plan to achieve these.

We received a good response to the consultation, receiving 103 online responses along with 4 written responses and 60 individuals attended the stakeholder events representing 27 different organisations. 

You said

We had a positive response to the consultation with between 74% and 85% of respondents to the online survey agreeing or strongly agreeing with what we had set out to do under each priority.  This sentiment was echoed through the other consultation activities, with most individuals and organisations agreeing with our commitments. Overall, the good response rate and positive feedback confirmed that we were on the right track with what we have set out to do over the next 5 years.  

Through all consultation activities, we also asked respondents to tell us if they had other comments and if there is anything in particular that they think is particularly important for us to deliver under the different priorities. We received a good number of comments, the majority of which reflected our commitments and plans set out in the draft strategy but we have further developed the strategy and made amendments, including:

  • Developed the strategy action plan informed by the priorities and insight gained from members of the public and stakeholders through the consultation process.
  • Updating the strategy and evidence base with the most recent Census data.
  • Incorporated more detailed information in relation to the need for affordable housing.
  • Reaffirmed our commitment to provide a face-to-face offer of services to those who need it.
  • Further developed our approach to governance and monitoring of the Strategy and Action Plan.
  • We have included more context and explanation as to our limitations as a Local Authority in areas where we have limited influence, this includes supporting individuals with no recourse to public funds and implementing rent caps in the private rented sector.

We did

The consultation and the subsequent refinements of the strategy itself, has enabled us to develop a comprehensive action plan. This action plan outlines details on how we will implement the ambitions and plans set out in the strategy, incorporates feedback we received through the consultation, and includes:

  • Plans for a review of the Council’s private rented sector access schemes, in order to make sure that we can offer affordable and sustainable housing solutions in the future.
  • Reduce the number of privately rented homes that contain serious home hazards.
  • Monitoring of the need for affordable homes in the City and having arrangements in place to ensure that the need for affordable homes drives the development of housing supply. Ensure that steps are taken to meet the high demand for certain affordable housing types, such as 1-bedroom properties.
  • Support and identify opportunities for community-led housing developments.
  • Continue to deliver investment into our council homes, including improving energy efficiency.
  • Continue to work with and support the Oxfordshire Homelessness Alliance and commissioning partners to end the need for anyone to sleep rough in the county.
  • Work with commissioning partners and providers to commission supported accommodation that is distributed and dispersed appropriately throughout the city, to ensure that persons living in supported accommodation feel supported and safe where they live.

The action plan will be updated yearly to ensure it remains relevant and responsive to changing context, and progress will be closely monitored and reported on.  A full review of the action plan and progress made will be completed on an annual basis. Revisions to the action plan will be presented to Cabinet for approval. In line with the normal process this report will also be available to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, and sub committees, to consider and provide recommendations to Cabinet, in line with the Council’s constitution.

The strategy and accompanying action plan are published on the Council’s website.

We asked

Public consultation ran from 10 September until 23 October 2022, a period of just over six weeks.

We asked residents for their views on a proposed ‘masterplan’ to update Oxford’s historic Covered Market for the 21st Century. This includes a number of proposed new measures, including a new ‘public square’ in the heart of the market and a new ‘pedestrian-friendly’ space on Market Street. 

There is a full analysis of its conclusion available on request.

You said

The in-person and virtual consultation was seeking to gather the widest possible public response.

  • We received 476 responses to our online consultation survey.
  • More than 300 people spoke to officers at one of the public drop-in sessions or at the online event.
  • More than 50 stakeholders, including Covered Market Traders, attended group or individual sessions or filled out the consultation.
  • Historic England, Oxford Preservation Trust, Oxford Civic Society, Cyclox, Brasenose College (on behalf of the retail-owning colleges including All Souls, Corpus Christi, Exeter, Jesus, Lincoln, Oriel and Trinity) shared their views separately over email.
  • Several councillors responded.

There was clear support for the masterplan proposals – both at an individual level and when taken together as a holistic plan:

  • 66% of respondents strongly agree or agree that the Covered Market needs all these proposals as part of a single plan (versus 15% who strongly disagree or disagree).
  • The element of the proposals which had the most support was the proposed change to Market Street: 81% of respondents strongly agree or agree that a more pedestrian-friendly area on Market Street will encourage more visitors to the Covered Market.
  • There was majority agreement that our proposals deliver against all six of the project ambitions, apart from for sustainability.
  • The people responding to the public consultation were primarily regular customers and visitors, and they come for a variety of reasons, although not many from the less engaged or under-represented groups responded.

The implications of the public consultation results:

  • The officer recommendation to take the masterplan proposals to the next stage of work is supported by the public.
  • The next stage of work (detailed design and onwards) should review the detailed comments from the consultation portal and stakeholders, so that more attention can be focused in relevant areas, including: the right mix of activities on Market Street and the communal area; more explanation of the value of improving entrances, toilets and cycle storage; more work on improving the environmental sustainability implications of the proposals.
  • The next stage of work, which would include at least one period of statutory public consultation, should endeavour to incorporate the views of a more diverse range of people.

We did

Oxford City Council has approved a £6.87m package to revitalise Oxford’s historic Covered Market.

The funding package was agreed by Cabinet at a meeting on Wednesday 8 February.

The project will see the entrances in High Street and Market Street transformed, larger seating areas inside, and a new dwell space outside in a new pedestrian-friendly Market Street.

The regeneration will respect the unique character, heritage and history of the Covered Market, which first opened fully in 1774, while securing the long-term future of the Grade II-listed prized Council asset.

The set of proposals has come together into a “Masterplan”, prepared over a period of two years, involving extensive consultation with market traders, residents and other stakeholders.

There are three main improvements in the Masterplan: 

1. A ‘pedestrian-friendly’ space on Market Street

This will be immediately outside the market entrances in Market Street, with the introduction of planters, seating and outdoor stalls. The public toilets are proposed to be modernised and relocated. The ‘back entrance’ to the Market will therefore be transformed into an attractive, green and accessible space to relax in the city centre. 

The service yard, or loading bay for traders, will stay in its existing location, so the proposal will rely on creating a period in the day when vehicles (apart from emergency services) will not be able to access some of Market Street.

The City Council is working with traders and other Market Street stakeholders, as well as the County Council, in order to establish a practical plan that will both accommodate traders’ day-to-day business needs, while enabling the new communal space to operate

2. New communal space opening onto Market Street 

The Market will have a new and much more visible opening from an improved Market Street into a large, welcoming seating area, which will function as a public square during the day and a flexible event space at different times. This will bring more light into the Market and improve the entrance space.

With generous amounts of seating, it will be much easier for visitors to spend more time in the Covered Market. Sympathetic architectural changes, including the addition of glazing, are proposed to reveal and protect the building’s heritage and splendour for future generations of shoppers and traders.​ 

Two existing units in the least historically significant part of the Market will need to be removed in order for this public square to be created, so the City Council is working with the affected businesses in order to review the opportunities to relocate within the Market.

3. Improved entrances on High Street and Cornmarket Street  

Lighter entrances, with better signage and a new floor surface will encourage more visitors to walk through from popular shopping areas nearby. The City Council is seeking ways to improve the entrances which will benefit the Market and the High Street more generally, and is working with the adjacent landowners to action this where appropriate.

Other proposals in the Masterplan include implementing essential improvements to the services of the Market (such as drainage) at the same time as the more visible transformations already summarised. This way, the Market will be able to evolve to meet customer’s needs long into the future.

We asked

We asked for views on plans for a new pedestrian and cycle footbridge to create a new link to enhance the wider walking and cycling network; improving accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists and reinforcing legibility.

The bridge was proposed to be located at Grandpont Nature Park (south side) and Oxpens Meadow (north side) connecting from Osney Mead to the west to Oxford City Centre and the Oxford Train Station and beyond to the wider walking and cycling networks.

You said

290 responses were collected from the online consultation. 42% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the need for a pedestrian and cycle footbridge in this location. 55% of respondents would be likely to use a pedestrian and cycle footbridge in this location.

We did

The information from the consultation was taken on board by the design team and used to help shape the next design phase.  Once this is undertaken we will then submit a planning application, targeted for late May 2023. Further consultation will take place as part of the planning process.

We asked

In July and August 2022, the Council held a consultation on a trial of extended opening hours at Oxford’s Covered Market.

You said

The majority of respondents favour later opening hours.

  • 70% of members of the public who took part in this consultation said they would visit more often if later opening hours also involved more events and opportunities to eat and drink as well as shop
  • Eating in (86%) and having a drink (73%) were cited as the most popular reason to visit
  • Most popular activities suggested by the public were Trader-led events (e.g., tastings, ‘meet the trader’ talks) and music, both at 74% of those surveyed, followed by comedy (52%) and film screenings (47%)

We did

Responses to the extended opening hours’ consultation and the learnings from the implementation of longer opening hours will feed into the implementation of the Masterplan proposals.