Question to Council from Cassi Perry

Waterways Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) and protection from complaints
My name is Cassi Perry. I am residential boater who has been based in and around Oxford for the last two years, and a resident in the city for more than a decade.I am here as part of the official PSPnO campaign. I am a keyworker and, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, working with young survivors of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation here in Oxford. I am also currently a part time Masters Student at Oxford University.

I am here because I am very concerned about the potential impact of the proposed Waterways PSPO.

Over the last few years, life as a residential boater has become increasingly difficult in Oxford.

Constant reductions in services have made life physically demanding, particularly in the winter months.

Increasingly discriminatory language being used in the press sometimes by local elected councillors has fuelled harassment on the towpath. During a recent 5 day stay within the city, I was verbally abused by 3 separate local residents, each one of them mentioning the proposed PSPO as justification for their aggression. I was dismayed to see these repeat complainers made up the bulk of the evidence (and I use the term evidence lightly here), that was used to justify the suggestion of a PSPO in the first place.

For me the PSPO was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and has driven me out of Oxford, a city I deeply love and where my friends and support are. Seeing local councillors proposing to legitimize the harassment we receive into law was horrifying, and for me as a single woman living alone, deeply frightening.

I have decided not to renew my mooring here, and have purchased a mooring in Banbury. This is depriving Oxford of yet another needed keyworker.

My Question for the council is this.

In considering a Waterways PSPO, how do Oxford City Council intend to protect boaters from individual homeowners making multiple malicious complaints, when it’s clear they are giving these homeowners a stronger voice in this debate and?

Written Response from Councillor Sinclair

The council are seeking the views of all members of the public interested in the Waterways. All comments will be given equal regard. Responses found to be malicious are unwelcome and will be disregarded.

Summary of the verbal response given by Councillor Sinclair at the meeting

As referred to in earlier debate, the Council is absolutely committed to people being adequately housed and it would be wonderful if the housing company can come up with alternative accommodation. I am particularly concerned at the totally unacceptable harassment and abuse and important that these are reported so that these can be addressed. I am concerned that these issues are only now coming to light and I am sorry that this has not been brought to our attention sooner. There is no stronger voice than those who live on the river and I am interested in what you have to say.