City Executive Board Meeting 17 March 2016

SUMMARY

Timeline – the story so far

Minutes of this meeting

Prior to this meeting, the Scrutiny Committee on 7 March 2016 did not feel that the PSPO proposal papers as presented to them generated a sufficient case for proceeding with consultation on the proposed Waterways PSPO. They talked of the risk of reputational damage to the Council and proposed a major revision of the whole proposal.

The Chair of the Scrutiny Committee presented a report saying this to the City Executive Board (CEB) meeting on 17 March 2016. However, the CEB concluded that they would not accept their own Scrutiny Committee recommendations and would proceed with the Oxford Waterways PSPO proposal.

IN MORE DETAIL

Papers submitted to City Executive Board re Waterways PSPO:

Agenda as published in advance

Oxford Waterways Public Spaces Protection Order consultation report to CEB
Links to the appendices listed in this document and presented to CEB can be found here.
The appendices presented were the same documents as presented to the Scrutiny Committee. The version of the supporting evidence now available online has been revised from the original version.

In the Scrutiny Committee Report it is stated that the committee voted to

“Revise the documentation, draft PSPO and consultation proposals in collaboration with interested parties before consulting on an improved proposal for an Oxford waterways PSPO.”

in preference to the motion

“Proceed with the consultation as planned with the existing documentation and PSPO as currently drafted.”

Ahead of the meeting, the CEB provided a response to the Scrutiny Committee recommendations. In this CEB response it refers to

“the lengthy discussions that have taken place with local residents and other interested parties over the past months”.

It further states;

“This consultation stage effectively corresponds to the wish expressed by the Scrutiny Committee for an early and meaningful engagement with all those who have an interest in the use and management of the city’s waterways.”

No local boater or boater group seems to have been party to these “lengthy discussions” and most were completely unaware that any “consultation stage” was in process prior to March 2016.

PSPnO believes that boaters are the most interested party of all and they have been deliberately excluded. Therefore for the response to claim that this complies with the clear recommendation from the council’s own Scrutiny Committee is disingenuous at best.

Further, in that same response the CEB proposes the following wording revisions to the draft PSPO.

– Original wording

d. No person shall create smoke or noise pollution causing annoyance to others;

– Revised wording

d. No person shall create smoke, noise or fumes in such a manner as to give reasonable grounds for annoyance to any person.

– Original wording

e. No person shall tamper with waterways habitats, signage, lifebelts, fencing or other waterways infrastructure;

– Revised wording

e. No person shall damage waterways habitats, signage, lifebelts, fencing or other waterways infrastructure;

PSPnO believes that while technically a revision, this in no way complies with the Scrutiny Committee recommendation.

A few words amended in a ten day gap between meetings does not seem to reflect earnest consideration of the Scrutiny Committee’s concerns as demonstrated by this extract from the Scrutiny Committee minutes:

“The Committee also felt that the wording of the draft PSPO should be reviewed, in particular but not limited to:

That the wording of part c) ‘no person shall store items…or erect structures’ had significant implications for the homeless population

That the wording of part d) ‘no person shall create smoke…causing annoyance to others’ could potentially include boat owners burning wood fuel to heat their boats, which should be treated differently from, for example, diesel fumes being emitted for a long period of time from stationary vessels. The Committee questioned whether smoke nuisance issues could be dealt with using existing environmental powers.

That the wording of part e) ‘No person shall tamper with the waterways habitats’ is too unclear given that many habitats require active management and conservation.

That the wording of part g) ‘in charge of more than four dogs’ could potentially include ‘the lady with several small poodles’.”

PSPnO ACTION AT MEETING

Various waterways users, from within and outside the PSPnO Campaign, submitted a number of questions to the CEB.

These were all published in a single pack, with a CEB response just before the meeting. Do read the questions, and the single response.

Areas covered include:

The existence of primary legislation for almost all PSPO restrictions

Alternatives to a PSPO

The impact on high profile rowing events of noise and alcohol restrictions

Robustness of the evidence submitted in the documentation

Compliance with Government guidance regarding when PSPOs are legally justified

The relationship between UMBEG and the new PSPO

Conflicts with Navigation Authority Ts&Cs

The evidential basis for the scope of the area covered

Requirement to identify landowners where no signage is posted

Protecting boaters from malicious complaints

Request for details on the Council’s consideration of the complexity of consulting with boaters

Protection of rights of home

The scope for additional moorings provision, as previously promised in press interviews with Councillors

In addition to the response published before the meeting, an additional document was published after the meeting “Individual responses to public questions”.
For most of the questions, the PSPnO Campaign feels that no actual answers have been forthcoming.

CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING

After limited discussion of the item, the City Executive Board resolved to:

Approve consultation on the Public Spaces Protection Order for the principle waterways of Oxford, as amended by the Head of Law and Governance and subject to the following condition: that the Council’s Public Engagement Board should consider all the points raised by Scrutiny and provide professional advice on the details of the proposed consultation process, and specifically, that it will ensure effective engagement with all interested parties, including but not limited to UMBEG (Unlawfully Moored Boat Enforcement Group) and NBTA (National Bargee Travellers Association) prior to commencement of the public consultation process.

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