Question to Council from Jo Hamilton

PSPO alternative options

12985577_10154109484506823_6992970122006827390_nMy name is Jo Hamilton, and I have lived on a boat in and around Oxford (on the River Thames and the Oxford Canal) for over seven years. In that time I have worked with a variety of community groups to improve the quality of their environment, and to minimise their carbon footprint. I am deeply concerned about the implications of the proposed Oxford Waterways Public Spaces Protection Order as it narrows down the options for collaborative solutions which could utilise the experience and expertise of many waterways residents, which could provide genuinely workable solutions to some of the problems expressed.

Oxford is conspicuous in being the only authority pursuing this, which is surprising given its strong record in Council- community collaboration in other areas. There are many examples of how multiple interest groups have worked together to produce positive solutions to issues around waterways issues, for example: the Mooring Strategy Steering Group that was established on the Western Kennet and Avon Canal; the Blue Ribbon Network that advises the Greater London Authority on waterways issues; working with CRT/EA to improve the condition of existing temporary visitor moorings in order to relieve pressure at popular sites.

From first-hand experience of supporting and helping to develop low carbon community groups across Oxford, I know the power of collaborative community action, working in partnership with other bodies such as the City and County Council. Such collaborations open up rather than close down the range of possible solutions and constructive dialogue.

Instead of bringing in a PSPO, this is an opportunity for creative thinking that capitalises on the rich expertise and experience of waterways users and residents, both those living on the Waterways and those in houses. The council could for example, establish a sub-committee or working group along the lines of its already established area forums, with full participation of all waterways users and residents.

My question is: does the City Council agree that the proposed consultation regarding the waterways PSPO should be expanded to include a range of alternative options for the waterways of Oxford, rather than just a yes or no outcome regarding only the PSPO?

Written Response from Councillor Sinclair

The consultation process is certain to raise many views, opinions and proposed solutions to some of the broader issues on the waterways. The Council welcomes the opportunity to work with interested parties in trying to resolve these issues.

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

Councillor Sinclair repeated her previous responses and said the introduction of the PSPO was still to be decided.