Oxfordshire tops UK recycling chart

Oxfordshire has been named the best performing county council waste disposal authority in England for the sixth year in a row, thanks to residents’ commitment to the environment.

Last year residents recycled or composted a larger proportion of their household waste than the previous year, while the national average for recycling fell, according to new government figures released on Friday (29 November).

Recycling officers at Oxfordshire County Council point to residents recycling more of their food waste as an important reason for the increase. Nearly 20,000 tonnes of food waste was recycled in 2018-19 – up 6% on the previous year. The four district councils and the city council in Oxford operate the kerbside collections of household recycling and waste, which Oxfordshire County Council then disposes of.

Overall 58% of household waste was recycled in Oxfordshire last year, compared to 57% the previous year. The national average was only 44.8%, according to the new figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Individually, the five District and City Authorities in Oxfordshire have also achieved excellent results above the national average.

Yvonne Rees, Chief Executive at Oxfordshire County Council, said:

“I would like to thank our residents who have done another great job of recycling so the county keeps the top spot in the country. Oxfordshire councils provide really good waste collection and recycling services, but it is only because most people use them properly that we’re able to perform so well.”

But waste officers at the county council have said that there is still a lot more to be done to improve recycling rates and the county council is keen to see further improvements as part of its goal to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Around half of the waste put in the general waste bin – the bin for non-recyclable materials only – could actually be recycled. Further increasing the amount of waste that is recycled or composted would make a huge difference to the county’s figures and save precious resources from being wasted.

The county’s leading place is down to the commitment of our residents to reduce and dispose of waste responsibly. The County Council’s Waste Disposal Authority, together with the five district and city authorities in Oxfordshire, provide comprehensive services to maximise the amount of materials that can be collected for reuse, recycling and composting.

Oxfordshire also has a very active network of community action groups (CAGs) funded by the county council that help tackle and reduce waste, especially the Replenish network which is doing great work to tackle food waste.

Residents can use one of seven household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) across the county. This is part of the county council’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life in our communities and the protection of the local environment are top priorities.

Yvonne Rees of Oxfordshire County Council added:

“We’re not complacent though. This year more waste collected for recycling than ever before has been rejected due to the wrong waste being put into the wrong kerbside containers such as textiles, nappies and food being put in the mixed recycling bin.

“We know that around half the items placed in the general waste bin could have been recycled using the services provided locally, and this includes a huge amount of food waste. So please check your local council website, make sure you’re recycling everything you can and look for tips on how to reduce the amount of waste your household produces.”

Free parking in the run-up to Christmas

Drivers in South Oxfordshire can benefit from free parking in district council car parks on certain days in December.
The annual free parking tradition is provided by South Oxfordshire District Council to encourage people to shop locally for their Christmas presents. The free parking days allocated to each area are agreed with the individual town councils depending on which day would best suit local traders.
Free Christmas parking days also means people don’t have to pay to park if they wish to catch up with friends and family in pubs, cafés and restaurants during the festive period.
Drivers will be able to park without paying for a ticket on the following days next month: 
Didcot – Mondays (9, 16, 23 December)
Goring – Saturdays (7, 14, 21 December)
Henley – Tuesdays (3, 10, 17 December)
Thame – Saturdays (7, 14, 21 December)
Wallingford -Thursdays (5, 12,19 December)

On the above days there’s no need to display a ticket.
Parking is also free on a Sunday in many of the council-owned town centre car parks – please check the tariff boards in car parks for further details.
For further information on parking in South Oxfordshire visit:
southoxon.gov.uk/parking 

Oxfordshire agencies preparing for Brexit

Agencies across Oxfordshire have been working together to prepare for the UK leaving the EU on 31 October.

Short-term risks to public safety and normal daily life have been assessed by emergency planners in Oxfordshire and remain ‘low’. Nevertheless, councils are working together to ensure plans are in place to support our communities and businesses through this period of change.

The emergency services, councils, businesses and voluntary organisations that make up the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum (LRF) have been working since last summer to prepare for the impact of a no-deal EU Exit.

LRFs have been advised to plan locally for a range of possible risks and threats, known as “reasonable worst-case scenarios”. Separately from Brexit preparations, the LRF regularly plans, tests and exercises its emergency plans and response to the locally identified community risks so that all agencies can respond quickly if needed.

As part of the work done on emergency planning through the LRF, there are already plans in place to cover foreseeable types of short-term disruption to public services that are delivered by local partners in Oxfordshire.

Councils have been asked to help to ensure that individuals and businesses know where to find information and advice to prepare for Brexit. Links to the government’s information are being publicised and residents are encouraged to consider the advice.

The government has also asked us to monitor potential impacts of Brexit on local businesses. We recognise concerns expressed by local employers. Oxfordshire councils stand ready to provide any practical support within their powers to local businesses. This could include identifying specific Oxfordshire impacts and relaying those to the government.

Public bodies continue to work closely together. Potential risks are being monitored and information shared, and where necessary plans updated.

OCC public transport proposals: have your say…

FROM YVONNE CONSTANCE, OCC CABINET MEMBER FOR ENVIRONMENT
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have been working together on bold measures to tackle congestion on routes into and around Oxford, particularly the ‘eastern arc’ that links north, east and southern Oxford outside the city centre. The continued growth in journey numbers as new jobs are created in and around the city means that decisive action is needed.

Severe traffic congestion is also having a negative impact on existing bus services including from the rural areas. With bus journey times worsening, operators are having to put more buses on the road to maintain timetables. This, together with falling passenger numbers is threatening the viability of bus services. If not addressed, this unsustainable trend could see a severe impact on less profitable city and rural services.

Although the actual changes to the transport system are in Oxford we expect the benefits to extend much wider as they will reduce congestion and improve connectivity for journeys into and around the city. In particular, new high frequency bus and Park & Ride services, will connect people living in rural areas and county towns to key employment sites in Oxford, as well as a new fast orbital route across the eastern arc.

We have done quite a bit of work on the proposals and are now looking for input from residents, employers and people who travel into the city before developing a full business case. We have already had some positive engagement with employers in the eastern arc, though we are well aware these proposals are likely to raise some concerns.

We would very much like to hear the views of residents outside the city with an interest in improved transport connections into and around Oxford. You can find more details about the project and information on how to comment here:
https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/roads-and-transport/connecting-oxfordshire/connecting-oxford

I would be very grateful if you could circulate this message within your local network and consider whether to provide a response on behalf of your parish or town. Please do get in touch if you would like any further information – lts.team@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

Household enquiry forms: please respond!

Residents who haven’t responded to their yellow ‘Household Enquiry’ form are being urged to do so as soon as possible.
Last month, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils sent a yellow letter to all homes across the two districts requiring people to confirm everyone over the age of 16 who currently lives in their property.
The councils need this information to make sure everyone who is eligible to vote is able to do so in any forthcoming elections. So far more than 80,000 properties have responded.
The councils are now sending out yellow reminder letters to roughly 43,000 homes they are yet to hear from.
As soon as people get their reminder letter, or if they can find the original letter, they should visit householdresponse.com/southandvale to confirm their details are correct or, if not, provide the correct information. You will need the 2-part code on the letter to do this.
Important – by law, each household must confirm their details, even if they are correct. Anyone who fails to do so could be fined up to £1,000.
Residents who do not have access to the internet can confirm their details by completing and returning the form that comes with the letter or calling the elections team at the council. If your details are correct you can confirm this by phone or text – the details required for this are included on the yellow letter.
If a household hasn’t confirmed their details by 5 October they will receive a visit from a council officer to confirm the details.
Margaret Reed, Electoral Registration Officer for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse, said: “We had a great response to our first letter. However, there’s a significant number of homes we still haven’t heard from. If you are yet to respond please confirm or update your details as soon as possible – the easiest way to do this is by visiting householdresponse.com/southandvale. By law you must do this, even if all the information is correct.”