Oxfordshire organisations provide exciting visions for county’s future
“A vibrant and ecologically sustainable community where everyone can get a house and a suitable job.”
This was among the exciting visions for the future of the county outlined by representatives of a variety of organisations at an event for the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.
The event was hosted by Councillor James Mills, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and Chair of the Plan Member Sub-Group, and Giles Hughes, Head of Planning at West Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire Plan Project Sponsor.
More than 70 delegates from groups spanning the environment, technology, business, planning and government bodies – as well as Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Committee members – took part in the session on December 18 that examined what the county’s future should and could look like.
Among the questions posed were “what is it that makes Oxfordshire great today?”, “what are Oxfordshire’s largest challenges today?”, “what are Oxfordshire’s greatest opportunities and threats for the future?” and “what do you want Oxfordshire to look like in 2050?”.
Hundreds of responses were received across the interactive session, tackling issues such as addressing the housing shortage amid a growing population, maintaining access to green spaces, mitigating climate change and improving transport connectivity.
They have now all been collated and will be used to help shape the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 – a joint statutory spatial plan for the county.
The plan is part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal secured by the Oxfordshire Growth Board with the Government.
It will look to examine the aspirations for the county for the next 30 years and set out how they can be achieved in a sustainable way that results in a better quality of life for all.
This will include new affordable housing, transport infrastructure and connectivity, as well as social infrastructure – with an emphasis on health and wellbeing in communities.
People can find out more about the Plan via its new website that has just gone live: www.oxfordshireplan.org
The site contains the latest news, frequently asked questions, details on public accountability and governance, and how people can get involved in shaping the plan including registering for consultations.
There are currently two documents that members of the public can comment on as part of the plan-making process.
The consultation on the draft Statement of Community Involvement, which sets out how the plan-making team will engage with the community, closes on Friday (January 11).
And a six-week consultation has opened today (January 7) for the draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report, which identifies the scope and level of detail to be included in the plan’s Sustainability Appraisal.
SODC has published the final version of its Local Plan. Visit www.southoxon.gov.uk/newlocalplan to view the documents and for guidance on how to comment.
Should you wish to discuss the Local Plan you can do so at the following drop-in sessions:
Parents are being urged to take extra care when buying toys this Christmas after Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards discovered dangerous items for sale online. The advice is part of the county council’s commitment to ensuring everyone shops safely during the festive period.
All toys must be supplied or marked with the following information (in accordance with the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011), but worryingly, this isn’t always the case:
• Toys must show the CE mark This is a claim by the manufacturer that the product will meet essential safety requirements during foreseeable and normal use.
• All toys must be marked with the manufacturer’s name, registered trade name or trade mark and a contact address. If the toy has come from outside Europe, the importer’s details must also be on the product.
• Toys must be accompanied by instructions for use, safety information and appropriate warnings for the type of toy. For example, ‘not suitable for children under months’
Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards team carries out enforcement work to protect consumers, residents and the environment, and to help promote a thriving local economy.
The team recently found toys not marked with the necessary information. They fear such toys don’t comply with essential safety requirements.
Trading Standards have concerns about magnetic putty toys containing high levels of arsenic and lead, as well as having small magnets which are too strong and could potentially cause injury if swallowed.
Decorative water beads (which expand in size in water) have also been reported to Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards for being wrongly advertised and marketed as toys. These beads could be mistaken as sweets by young children.
There have been reports, in the past, of such toys expanding up to over 400 times their original size when immersed in water, if swallowed there is potential for them to expand and cause intestinal obstruction, vomiting, severe discomfort and dehydration, and in extreme cases they might need to be surgically removed.
Councillor Judith Heathcoat, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Christmas should be a happy time for families, and a joy for children as they enthusiastically open their gifts. Please follow our safety advice, so you’re confident every gift is safe, with correct instructions and labelling.”
Anyone with concerns about the safety or labelling of toys can contact Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
Preparing the Christmas meal comes with its pressures, but there are people on standby over the festive period with even greater responsibilities. They include Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service personnel, ready to drop everything to keep residents safe.
Stevie Morse is looking forward to her turkey on Christmas Day, but she knows family festivities might be disrupted abruptly by a pager message.
That’s because she is one of the dedicated Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service’s on-call firefighters, ready to respond to an emergency at a moment’s notice.
Stevie (29) is based at Burford Fire Station. This is her third year on duty on Christmas Day and she knows from experience that festive distractions can trigger an emergency.
She explains: “Two years ago I finished up attending someone else’s Christmas meal, not as a guest, but to put it out!
“The family had popped round to neighbours, leaving the potatoes to boil. The water in the pan evaporated and a small fire started. Luckily the smoke alarm was triggered, and we were called and able to extinguish the flames before they caused serious damage.
“Nevertheless, there was some smoke damage, and the family was in an understandable state of shock. Not the ideal Christmas Day for them.”
Stevie, who is just five-minutes’ drive away from Burford Fire Station, keeps fit ready for all eventualities through her regular job. She is a personal trainer and assistant manager at Eynsham Hall Health and Fitness Club.
This puts her in good stead when Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service assess her fitness during regular treadmill tests. Stevie was also required to complete upper and lower body exercises and grip tests at the recruitment exam.
Stevie knows that drink and distractions can contribute to accidents and emergencies, especially at Christmas.
“Most people understand that if they’ve been drinking, they don’t drive, but it’s often Boxing Day when revellers get caught out,” says Stevie.
“Alcohol might still be in the system, meaning someone ‘behind the wheel’ is less alert, with slower instincts. My message is: please avoid driving the day after you’ve been drinking. It’s fine having a merry Christmas Day, but you should never be complacent the morning after.”
Further advice here on when you could drive the day after drinking alcohol.
“I wish everyone in Oxfordshire a happy and safe Christmas,” says Stevie. “That means avoid being distracted when cooking the big family meal, and if enjoying a bit, or a lot, of your favourite beverage; don’t drink and drive. And avoid the car the following day too, until you’re confident the booze has left your system.”
Throughout other parts of the county, firefighters will be on standby, like Stevie, to ensure local emergency cover.
Paul Webster (49) is the whole-time fire station manager for Abingdon, Wantage and Faringdon.
With 27 years’ experience, Paul has done the Christmas Day shift many times before and has seen many festivities disrupted because of accidents.
Paul explains: “My role as a duty officer is to respond to an emergency and take over as the incident commander. This means I coordinate the firefighters who attend. I don’t go to the fire station, but instead leap into my response car and drive straight to the emergency.
“A fire or road traffic accident can be just as devastating on Christmas Day as it is on any other day, and the same safety advice applies.
“My festive message is: make sure you have a smoke alarm and regularly check the batteries. If there’s a fire, get out, stay out, and dial 999. As heart-breaking as it is to lose your presents or Christmas meal to a fire, losing your life or suffering burns or injury is even more devastating.
“I have worked many Christmas Days and remember some for the wrong reasons, including car crashes, domestic fires; even a restaurant blaze in Witney a few years ago.
“I hope I’ll have a quiet family Christmas this year, but if you do need Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service on 25 December, like Stevie, the turkey comes second. I’ll drop everything to swiftly attend whatever the emergency.”
Collection dates over the Christmas period are as follows:
Monday 24 December: unchanged (grey bin/food waste)
Monday 31 December changes to Wednesday 2nd January (recycling/food waste)
Monday 7 January changes to Tuesday 8 January (grey bin/food waste)
No garden waste will be collected on the above dates.
Details of arrangements for Christmas tree recycling can be found here:
I would like to share with you Oxfordshire County Council Fire & Rescue Service’s Community Risk Management Action Plan 2019-20. I ask for your support in reviewing our six projects outlined in the plan and also by responding to our Consultation via the following link:
Please may I ask you to assist us by responding to our consultation, consulting us on any comments or thoughts you may have. Feedback from our communities will help us to shape our service and deliver the best outcomes to Oxfordshire.
Chief Fire Officer and Director of Community Safety