Decision Maker

Oxford City Council

Oxford City Council is the democratically-elected district council for Oxford. In partnership with others, we provide services for residents, businesses, visitors and people who work in the city.


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Victory
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Don't make life harder for Oxford's rough sleepers

So it looks like Oxford City Council has decided that rough sleeping isn’t hard enough as it is. They are proposing a ban on various 'anti-social activities' in the city centre (by using new 'public spaces protection order' powers, PSPOs). One of the activities Oxford City plan to ban and criminalise is “rough sleeping”. We at On Your Doorstep believe that the proposed ban is an unacceptable cover up of the huge housing and homelessness crisis that Oxford faces. We feel that this policy glosses over the long term issue of homelessness and are discriminates against Oxford’s rough sleepers. PSPOs were not designed to target groups of vulnerable people. Rough sleeping in itself should not be a crime.  We are therefore calling on the council to remove rough sleeping from the list of behaviours which they seek to ban. Criminalising rough sleeping in the city centre will only increase (already high) levels of stigma surrounding Oxford's homeless population. It privileges the appearance of Oxford over its' citizens' wellbeing, and risks treating rough sleepers as a problem to be dealt with, as an inconvenience, as a threat, rather than as individual human beings. Oxford has done great work supporting homeless people up until this point, we do not want the council to undo this incredible work by introducing this ban. We have seen public pressure stop homelessness from being glossed over in Westminster and in Manchester. We know that if you join us in the fight we can stop this from happening in Oxford as well. The final decisions will be made in June. We have to show the council, before then, that we do not support their proposal. Please take a moment to sign this petition. Let’s make sure that Oxford City Council don’t make rough sleeping harder than it already is!  Note to media: If you would like to contact us please email oydoxford@gmail.com

On Your Doorstep Oxford
71,881 supporters
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Open up Oxford's emergency homeless shelters every freezing winter night to save lives

It is obvious to all those who live, work, and study here, that there is a crisis on the streets of Oxford. Several homeless people have died in this rich and illustrious city so far this Winter, and many of our coldest nights are still to come. As it stands, SWEP (the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol), under which the emergency shelters are opened to rough sleepers, is generally invoked only rarely by the City Council, usually when the weather forecast is for three consecutive nights below zero. But sometimes it doesn't take three nights to kill someone. It didn't take three nights to kill Vikki Cope - she was 43 when she died sleeping rough in Oxford several weeks ago. Homelessness is a national problem, and it will not be solved in Oxford by a change of protocol. But we can do a little to ease suffering. And we can do a little to save lives. When and how often the emergency shelters are opened in Oxford is in the City Council's hands. So let us follow the example of London, where Sadiq Khan has announced the emergency shelters will be opened on every single day with sub-zero temperatures. This is not a revolution, but it is bold, and it will save lives. If London can dare to do this, why not Oxford? Oxford City Council, we implore you to do the right thing and open up the emergency shelters this Winter. We don't have the time to wait for the next person to die. #HomelessFrozenOut

Alex Kumar
38,689 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Wadham College, Oxford City Council

Tell Wadham College to do the right thing for homeless people this winter

On one of the coldest nights of the year a group legally occupied an empty building owned by Oxford University's Wadham College to provide secure shelter and basic amenities for people sleeping rough on Oxford's streets. Wadham and leaseholders Midcounties Co-op now want to throw the homeless people staying in the building back onto the streets! The building, which has been empty for two years was opened on New Year's Eve as 'Iffley Open House' a shelter run together with rough sleepers and homeless people to create a safe and secure home. Help us by calling on the owners, Wadham College and leaseholders Midcounties Co-op, to allow the continued use of the building as a shelter this winter.  We are requesting the building remain open as a shelter for just three months - at which point the owners plan to demolish the buildings and redevelop the site. This action is in response to the rising number of rough sleepers in Oxford, up 50% in the last year, whilst central government cuts force the closure of homeless services across the city. By the end of 2018 further decommissioning of services will result in a loss of more than 260 beds since early 2016. Thank you for your support!  #wadhamhelphomeless      

Iffley Open House
6,122 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Don't threaten homeless people with fines

Homeless people sleeping rough in Oxford have been issued with threats of fines of up to £2,500 just for having their sleeping bags and possessions in shop doorways.  Can we get 2,500 signatures - one for every pound Oxford city council wants to fine homeless people? As an Oxford resident for almost 20 years, who also supports Shelter and Crisis, this is an issue so close to my heart, and this is a really terrible thing for the council to have done.  The council's response that this is about fire safety adds fuel to the fire - dehumanising homeless people to the level of walking fire hazards.  The council must withdraw these threats of fines, and stop issuing them to homeless people now.  A clear pattern is developing in the council's attitude towards homeless people - they must stop this now, and if enough of us make a noise about this disgrace, they'll have to act. So please sign now!  "Homeless people putting their possessions in shop doorways in Oxford have been threatened with fines of up to £2,500. Legal notices have been pinned on to bags belonging to rough sleepers, warning that they could be prosecuted by Oxford city council for being in breach of antisocial behaviour laws." - The Guardian, 26 July 2017 This comes in a city where funding is pulled from two important homeless shelters and the same city council is refusing to reopen Lucy Faithfull House. 

Stuart Fowkes
5,628 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Help re-open Lucy Faithfull House homeless accommodation

Can you support Iffley Open House in calling on Oxford City Council to do the right thing and to re-open Lucy Faithful House as a night shelter? Last year Lucy Faithful House was forced to close after 30 years of operation as a night shelter serving the homeless of Oxford due to budget cuts. This year further planned closures will mean a total loss in 261 beds for the homeless over the next 12 months across the city.  Meanwhile homelessness has doubled in the last year and cuts to housing support services are making it harder for people to find a safe, secure home in their city. At the Oxford City Council Budget meeting on 20th February we are calling for a vote to save Lucy Faithful House and reinstate it as a vital social service for the homeless. The residents of Iffley Open House, a group that occupied an empty garage in east Oxford on New Year’s eve, is being forced to leave by the 27th February. The building owned by Wadham College has been run as a shelter and social space for and by homeless and rough sleepers. With no alternative the residents will be thrown back on the street on the 27th February in freezing temperatures. We are appealing to the council and wider public to support us in helping to rehouse the residents.    The Council administration want to sell off the Lucy Faithfull House site, most probably for luxury housing BUT there is an opposition amendment which will save the building and restore it as much needed homeless accommodation. The decision will be made at the Oxford City Council meeting on Monday 20th February.   If this petition gets 1500 signatures before the Council meeting then City Councillors will have to debate saving Lucy Faithfull House at the next Council meeting in April.    

Lucy Faithful
3,641 supporters
Petitioning University of Oxford, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council

End cycling deaths in Oxford

On the 9th May, another exceptional student of the University of Oxford was killed cycling on the dangerous roads of Oxford. The University is the dominant force in this city and gives a huge amount to it. It is in a strong position to ask for changes. And only through material changes can we prevent the loss of yet another life. We are asking for: 1.     No private cars or motorbikes within the area of town bounded by central University and college property 2.    Clearly marked and wide cycle lanes on all major roads throughout the Oxford area 3.     Physical barriers, such as kerbs, between cycle and vehicle lanes There should never be a situation where one individual’s convenience or mistakes are allowed to compromise the life of another.  We additionally ask for:  4.    Greater investment and publicity for cycle safety courses Please see the full letter here.

Oxford Cyclist
3,393 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Where are our promised 1,000 Westgate bike racks?

One of the planning conditions attached to the development of the Westgate Shopping Centre was the provision of 1022 bike parking spaces. These bike racks were intended to replace those removed from the City Centre during the construction works and provide additional spaces to encourage more sustainable travel. So far, Labour-run Oxford City Council (who voted through the development on their own land) have failed to enforce this condition, allowing the Westgate to open with only a small fraction of the promised cycle parking and without the promised cycle hub. Overall, Oxford now has far fewer cycle racks than before the Westgate development began.  The Council have, however, found time to expand the number of car parking places in the City Centre and negotiated a reduction in car parking fees leading to increased traffic and a worsening of Oxford's already badly polluted air. 

Oxfordshire Green Party
2,179 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Oxford City Council

A Call to Protect Narnia!

Help us stop the building application that will destroy the quiet Narnian environment of C.S. Lewis’s beloved home -- "The Kilns" -- and the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve! Why is this important? A planning application has been submitted to the Oxford City Council for approval of a new building development that would provide 9 apartments (with a mix of 1, 2 and 3 beds) in a 2 1⁄2 storey building and a 22 car parking lot. The proposed plan would also require an access road to be built directly across from The Kilns, at the end of Lewis Close and along the boundary of the C.S Lewis Nature Reserve. Impact on visitors to Lewis’ home The proposed housing complex and right of way will destroy the peace and tranquility many find on this quiet cul-de-sac as they come on pilgrimage to visit the home of an author who has inspired millions. The Kilns welcomes children, families, school groups. and tourists from around the world, offering the experience of viewing the historic Blue Plaque home. Further, scholars and clergy live in the home throughout the year, finding a place of quiet study as they work on research and writing projects. Environmental impact The building of the apartment complex and the parking lot adjacent to the Nature Reserve would have a negative environmental impact on the species of animals and plants sheltered in the area, many of which were planted by author C.S. Lewis himself. Lewis Close is such a wonderful place and the access road and property development that is planned to run along it will no doubt pollute the lake, increase the traffic making it unsafe for pedestrians and spoil this place of amazing magic and beauty. This area is of national and historic significance and should be preserved for generations to come. Neighborhood impact The Oxford Times sums it up nicely: “Mr Beecher wants to build units of sheltered housing along with a music room. The two-story buildings would overlook the woodland and lake, with an access road running past the C.S. Lewis house and crossing the garden of the neighboring property. Dr. Deborah Higgens, resident warden of the house, said, ‘It would damage the neighbourhood. Having a major through road to 10 buildings would mean traffic cutting through. It would change everything.’”  Douglas Gresham, whose mother, the poet Joy Davidman, married C.S. Lewis and lived at The Kilns, declared “This should not be allowed to happen. It has always been a quiet lane. This proposal would have the effect of putting the C.S. Lewis house in the middle of a development that it does not belong to.... It would destroy what is a quiet cul-de-sac, and what for many is a holy retreat, for the sake of a profit grab idea.”  How this will be delivered By signing this petition, you are endorsing the C.S. Lewis Foundation (UK)’s 14 November 2016 Letter of opposition to "Planning Application 16/02549FL – Land Adjacent to 4 Wychwood Lane, Oxford, OX3 8HG – Erection of 9 Apartments with Ancillary Facilities and 22-Car Parking Spaces Accessed from Lewis Close." This petition will be submitted by the Foundation to the Oxford City Council on the occasion of its next scheduled public hearing on the matter, currently scheduled for 8 February 2017. A call to action On behalf of the C.S. Lewis Foundation (UK), its much respected neighbors, and worldwide constituency, we, the undersigned, urge you, the Oxford City Council, to honor the C.S. Lewis Foundation (UK)’s letter of appeal to deny approval of this invasive development proposal.

C.S. Lewis Foundation
1,987 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Save our town

So Mr Vaisey wants Wantage to become Didcot!  Wantage has so much history to our town it would be a great loss to our history and our ancestors!  Wantage has changed over the years but it's our home!  The distance between Wantage & Didcot is 10 miles and we are Vale of White horse Didcot is South Oxfordshire. It wouldn't work!  Think of the problems this will cause. Housing benefit Taxi licence and lots more!  Stand with me and sign this petition to save our beloved town 

kelly button
1,267 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Oxford Needs The Swan School

Oxford City is facing a secondary school places crisis. Existing schools are full to capacity and have accepted additional students in recent years as a short term emergency measure. The government's Education Funding Authority reviewed 30 sites across Oxford and last year decided upon a site in Marston to build Oxford's brand new secondary school (the first built since the 60's) - The Swan School. In a shock decision on 5th Sept, the City Council's Planning Committee went against the advice from the Planning and Education experts and voted against the plans for the school building (a majority of 4 Councillors to 3 voted against). The main reasons being it was building on the green belt and the school entrance cuts across the cycle track on the Marston Ferry Rd. Although we all agree it is a shame to have to build on green belt land, Natural England and the Environment Agency approved the plans after their review. Further, the Oxford City planning officers decided that although they recognised the impact on the green belt - the urgent need for school places outweighed these concerns. We are avid cyclists and use the cycle track on the MFR - some of us have older children who cycle there daily to Cherwell school. So we have studied the proposed plans carefully to satisfy ourselves that the measures to ensure safety are satisfactory. These include cyclists retain right of way at all times, staff cannot enter the site in cars after 8am, only those with authorisation can enter by car (eg disabled staff/students). The Swan day is timed to run 9.15 - 4.45 in order not to clash with Cherwell. They also plan to use a warden during busy times and a barrier will be in place so the vehicle entrance will be completely closed during Cherwell and Swan start and end times. We are satisfied that these measures will ensure safety for all and cause less interference than the existing cut-through at the Summertown end of the cycle path into Cherwell South site and playing fields. We believe any minor inconvenience of the new arrangements is outweighed by the need for local school places.  This decision to reject the plans was made with no Plan b as to where our children will go to school. Currently some Marston children are being bussed to schools in Cowley and Blackbird Leys, as Cherwell and Cheney Schools are full. This problem is only set to worsen in coming years as predictions show a surge of secondary starters in 2019 (the year the Swan is due to open) and another even greater surge in 2021 (current Year 4 pupils) - by which point they literally may not have an Oxford secondary school place to go to as it is predicted an additional 144 places will be needed. Although Marston and Jericho are most heavily affected, all Oxford city schools feel the impact of the squeeze. We have a chance to get this decision overturned by the Planning Review Committee on the 15th October. Please sign this petition so we can show Oxford City Council how much local families want and need this new secondary school in Oxford. Thanks - from a group of Marston families

Tessa Clayton
1,061 supporters
Open up Oxford's emergency homeless shelters every freezing winter night to save lives

We think it’s important to clear up some inaccuracies in this petition. The lady who died last year was not sleeping rough, and the weather was not 0°C or below, at the time of her death. She had an Oxford connection and was accessing homelessness services in Oxford; she was accommodated at the time she was taken ill. Increasing SWEP to every night that temperatures are predicted to drop to 0°C or below would have had no impact on this individual. We believe it to be inappropriate for anyone to base their argument on an incomplete and misleading understanding of the sad facts concerning a particular individual’s death. It has been alleged that people were turned away from the SWEP service due to a lack of space. This is simply not true – no one was turned away because of a lack of space. Homeless Oxfordshire, St Mungo’s and the Porch have provided an excellent SWEP service on behalf of the City Council. From time to time they will bar individuals on safeguarding grounds as they have duties of care to staff and residents, and some individuals have a record of incidents posing an unacceptable risk to others. Also they may not admit individuals outside the opening hours, which are clearly communicated to rough sleepers. In common with everyone who has signed up to the City Conversation, our vision is an Oxford where nobody has to sleep rough. We have invested around £20m to help the homeless in the last couple of years, including buying properties to provide accommodation for homeless families, to provide £1.4m of annual grants to homelessness services, and to fund a £1.1m new homeless shelter in Oxford. We are doing what we can to help the homeless and end this national tragedy that is playing out on our streets. If you would like more information about our work, or would like to know how you can help the homeless in Oxford, please visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/tacklinghomelessness.

11 months ago
Open up Oxford's emergency homeless shelters every freezing winter night to save lives

Thank you for caring about Oxford’s homeless and rough sleepers. We are deeply touched that so many of you have shown your concern for the effects of the national homelessness crisis that is playing out in a large number of UK cities, including Oxford. If you don’t read any further than this, please consider doing something more to help the situation. Please give your time or money to support the rough sleepers and homeless in Oxford. There is a list of 12 ways you can help now at the end of this document. Oxford City Council takes the issue of rough sleeping extremely seriously, and this document will take you through the range of work we do to help tackle the issue. Over the last two years we have: • Maintained our £1.4m of annual grants to Oxford’s homeless charities, funding a wide range of support services and accommodation, with a proposal to increase this by £200,000 in 19/20 onwards • Committed £1.5m to keep the Simon House hostel open in the face of closure and build a brand new facility for rough sleepers with complex needs in Cowley, Oxford • Secured £790,000 of Government funding to help vulnerable single adults under the age of 35, and households, at risk of homelessness • Allocated £15m to buy homes for otherwise homeless Oxford families. In the 2018/19 budget, we are proposing to add a further £5m to this fund • Alongside partners, prevented 1,107 households from becoming homeless in 2016/17 Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) Oxford City Council funds the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP), which provides emergency accommodation to everyone who needs it when the temperature is forecast to fall to 0°C or below for three consecutive nights. Oxford City Council is by far the largest provider of SWEP provision in Oxfordshire. There is no legal requirement to operate the SWEP but the City Council believes that it has a humanitarian responsibility in the face of the scale of rough sleeping in the city. Although funded by the City Council, the SWEP is operated by experienced, professional staff at St Mungo’s Outreach, the Porch, O’Hanlon House and Simon House. Whenever SWEP opens these employees step up from their core duties to carry out the extra hours of work required. Operating the service more frequently, without negatively impacting our core services for rough sleepers, would require a substantial and continuous increase in staffing levels – significantly increasing the cost. To fund this would require additional increases in Council Tax or cuts to other services. We increased SWEP services this year by opening for seven nights over the Christmas and New Year period, and no one was turned away because of a lack of space. On some nights as few as five people used the service. With the current level of SWEP provision and the City Council's agreement with churches in Oxford to open 10 new beds every night between January and March as part of their Oxford Winter Night Shelter (OWNS) initiative, we believe that there is enough support to help all those rough sleepers who wish to get off the streets and access accommodation. About homelessness in Oxford Homelessness in Oxford takes many forms: from the visible rough sleepers on our streets, to the invisible families that have fallen on hard times. People who experience homelessness are often affected by a wide range of issues, including relationship breakup, domestic violence, debt, mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, and changes to benefits. Over recent years the Government has cut its £9m annual grant to Oxford City Council to nothing. Despite this challenging financial situation, the City Council is doing its best to support everyone who is at risk of or becomes homeless. This document outlines some of the City Council’s work. Homeless families In 2015, Oxford City Council partnered with Resonance Real Lettings property fund, with both organisations contributing £5m to purchase houses in or near Oxford for local families that would otherwise be homeless. The partnership includes homelessness charity St Mungo’s Broadway, which manages the properties, provides support services and arranges moves on to sustainable accommodation. In 2016, the City Council contributed a further £10m for temporary accommodation purchase, and, in the draft budget for 2018/19, the City Council is proposing to commit a further £5m. As part of this programme, the City Council is using compulsory purchase powers to buy empty Oxford homes for otherwise homeless Oxford families. The City Council is currently compulsorily purchasing a property in Rose Hill, which has stood empty since 1989, for this purpose. However, the City Council’s work to prevent Oxford families from becoming homeless goes far beyond just buying houses, and includes: • A £50,000 emergency fund to help new Universal Credit claimants. New claimants have to wait at least six weeks before they get their first full payment of Universal Credit (changing to five weeks in February 2018); the fund aims to help with their utilities, food and essential living costs during that wait • Supporting households affected by the benefit cap, bedroom tax and other cuts to their housing benefit with discretionary housing payments (DHPs). In 2017/18, we have a £509,495 DHP grant from the Department for Work and Pensions, which we use to top up rent shortfalls while customers work with our Welfare Reform Team to improve their financial circumstances and sustain their tenancies • A pilot Rent Guarantee Scheme, helping families threatened with homelessness into private tenancies by offering guaranteed rent and tenancy management support to landlords while we work with their tenants to improve their financial situation • As part of the City Council’s £1.4m annual grants programme, giving £518,379 in 2016/17 to organisations that provide advice and money-management support, including £200,000 to Oxford Citizens Advice Bureau, £85,290 to the Agnes Smith Advice Centre, and £122,611 to Oxford Community Work Agency • As part of the same annual grants programme, in 2016/17 giving £35,082 to A2 Dominion to support those experiencing domestic abuse, £15,000 to Oxford Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre, and £1,000 to Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse • Retaining more than 7,800 council houses to provide affordable homes to Oxford families, and building and purchasing hundreds of new council houses across Oxford, including 354 as part of the Barton Park housing development In 2004, the number of otherwise homeless Oxford families in temporary accommodation (i.e. hotels or B&Bs) stood at 1,000. But, thanks to all this work, the number in August 2017 was just 87 – down from 96 in March 2017. This stands in sharp contrast to the national trend, which has seen a 60% increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation since March 2011. In 2016/17, Oxford City Council and its partners prevented 1,107 households from becoming homeless. And the City Council has now almost abandoned the use of hotels and B&Bs to house otherwise homeless Oxford families. Of the 96 households in temporary accommodation in March 2017, none were in hotels or B&Bs. But the pressure on families in Oxford is increasing. More than 100 households every month are now approaching the City Council as homeless and requesting assistance. Rough sleepers Beds and services for rough sleepers in Oxford used to be largely funded through £1.4m of grants from Oxford City Council and £2m of grants from Oxfordshire County Council. Regrettably, due to a huge reduction in the amount of money it receives from central Government, Oxfordshire County Council has decided, from April 2018, to reduce its funding of homelessness services to zero. At the same time, the number of people sleeping rough in Oxford is increasing. The official street count, which is carried out by every district in the country, revealed that 61 people were sleeping rough in Oxford – a dramatic increase from the 33 in 2016. But the City Council and homeless organisations estimate the number could be as many as 89 people – up from 47 in 2016. Oxford City Council funds and provides a wide range of support services and accommodation for Oxford’s rough sleepers. The focus over the last year has been to mitigate the impact of Oxfordshire County Council’s funding cuts. But it is important to note that Oxford City Council does not have a statutory duty to provide this funding or these services. However, we see it as our humanitarian responsibility to help. More beds and a new shelter Simon House, a hostel in Oxford that helps rough sleepers with complex needs, was due to close in March 2018 as a direct result of Oxfordshire County Council’s funding cuts. However, Oxford City Council has provided the hostel with £200,000 of funding to keep 22 of the beds open until April 2019 to allow time for a new facility to be built at another location in the City. The City Council has also provided £1.1m to enable A2Dominion, the leaseholder and support provider at Simon House, to build bespoke supported accommodation next to the John Allen Centre in Cowley. The new facility will provide 22 units of complex needs accommodation with staff on-site 24 hours a day, with a further 15 units of move-on accommodation for people with low support needs as they move towards independent living. Work is due to start on the new facility in the spring of 2018, subject to planning approval. The City Council has also provided an additional £160,000 to Response Housing and Oxford Homeless Pathways. This money will be used to double the number of beds at the Acacia housing project from five to 10 in the next two years. The Acacia project, which is based on the US Housing First model, has proved successful at resettling people whose multiple and complex needs make it difficult for them to manage in other types of supported housing. Grants to homelessness organisations Every year Oxford City Council provides £1.4m of grants to Oxford’s homelessness organisations to fund a wide range of support services. Much of these support services are targeted at early intervention to stop people from becoming homeless. Funding targeted at helping existing rough sleepers aims to support them through what is known as the homeless pathway. This is the path from sleeping on the streets; through hostels and supported accommodation; with support services to help with employment, training, or any substance abuse or mental health issues; and finally to helping people into permanent accommodation and work. In 2016/17 the grants, totalling £1,385,214, funded the following organisations: Supported accommodation: • Housing First, Julian Housing: £47,850 Funding for one full time (FTE) support worker and 0.5 FTE peer support worker for this specialist housing project. The project offers an alternative supported housing model – five units – for rough sleepers entrenched in homelessness. • O’Hanlon House: £54,903 Funding to provide 10 additional spaces to manage the high number of rough sleepers. • Dispersed supported accommodation: £150,000 Forty units of supported accommodation for rough sleepers/single homeless with a connection to Oxford. The Provision is for medium- to low-support needs, with a focus on support to enable residents to move on to and sustain independent accommodation. Tackling Rough Sleeping: • Street Population Outreach Team, St Mungo’s: £350,893 Funding a team of nine FTE. The team delivers assertive outreach, reconnection, personalisation and advice services for rough sleepers/single homeless. It assists rough sleepers to access suitable accommodation and support – in Oxford, Oxfordshire or elsewhere – with the aim to reduce the number of individuals spending a second night on the streets, living on the streets and returning to the streets. • Severe Weather Emergency Provision: £25,000 Funding to provide emergency beds in periods of severe weather to all rough sleepers. • Specialist Homelessness Liaison Officer/Service, Thames Valley Police: £40,000 Funding for TVP City Centre Unit to provide targeted support to reduce rough sleeping. TVP City Centre Unit has a dedicated police constable for the purpose of this work. • Day Services for rough sleepers, O’Hanlon House: £82,778 Provision of day services – showers and laundry facilities, as well as breakfast and lunch and any other activities taking place – for individuals rough sleeping in Oxford and working with outreach services to access suitable accommodation. • City Centre Ambassadors, Oxford City Council: £10,000 Part of the City Centre Ambassadors’ work includes engaging with homeless people and referring them into the appropriate support services. Preventing homelessness: • Preventing Homelessness Tenancy Sustainment Officer, Elmore Community Services: £35,630 Funding for one FTE specialist sustainment officer to support residents in Oxford City Council accommodation to maintain their tenancies. • Pre-Tenancy Training Course, Connection Support: £16,000 Funding to provide courses to help 50 people develop a range of skills that will enable them to become tenancy ready. • Welfare Reform Team, Oxford City Council: £80,000 Funding contributes towards the work of the team focussing mitigating the impact of welfare reform across the City. • Target Hardening/Sanctuary Scheme, Oxford City Council: £30,000 Funding provided for a post in the Anti-Social Behaviour Team to support victims of domestic abuse and enable them to stay in their own homes. Access to Health and Social Care: • Mental Health Practitioner, Luther Street Medical Centre: £25,000 Funding to contribute towards one FTE Mental Health Practitioner in order to providing the outreach team with specialist mental health support and intervention when supporting rough sleepers. Tackling Worklessness and Improving Positive Activities: • Education, training and employment workers, Aspire: £77,623 Funding for two FTE Education, Training and Employment workers to provide training and employment opportunities for homeless and/or vulnerably housed individuals in Oxford. • Emmaus Community Oxford: £15,000 Core funding for Emmaus to provide accommodation in their community and work opportunities in their second-hand furniture social enterprise. • Day Centre, The Porch: £55,000 Core funding for The Porch (formerly known as Steppin’ Stone) daycentre to support rough sleepers and those vulnerably housed through a range of activities, training and education and where appropriate sign post clients to more appropriate services. • Service Broker, The Big Issue Foundation: £25,000 Funding for one FTE to support Big Issue sellers into accommodation and into sustainable work opportunities. • Gatehouse Café: £5,580 Core funding for the Gatehouse café to support and engage hard-to-reach clients to access accommodation and specialist support. Priority services for Young People: • Young People’s Pathway, Oxfordshire County Council: £42,992 This grant is part of Oxford City Council’s contribution to joint commissioning of the Young Person’s Pathway. • Emergency Bed for Oxford city, Oxfordshire County Council: £6,134 Funding provides one emergency bed within the Young Person’s pathway for use by Oxford city. Other: • Single Homelessness Team, Oxford City Council: £120,000 Funding contribution towards the Council’s Rough Sleeping and Single Homelessness Team. • Private Rented Move-on assistance: £15,000 Funding to enable access to private rented accommodation for individuals moving on from the adult homeless pathway. Funds will assist with deposit and accessible for individuals with a connection to the City. • Oxford CHAIN database, Real Systems: £4,000 Core funding to maintain web-based database management system that collates data and provides monitoring reports on rough sleeping. • In-year commissioning: £70,831 Funding has been put aside in order for officers to respond to unmet need by commissioning services addressing emerging service gaps. The City Council, in its draft budget, has proposed increasing the £1.4m of annual grants to homelessness organisations by £200,000 every year from 2019/20. Trailblazer funding In December 2016, Oxford City Council, along with Oxfordshire’s district councils, won £790,000 of Government funding (known as the Oxfordshire Trailblazer bid) to help vulnerable single adults under the age of 35, and households, at risk of homelessness. For each at-risk individual, the money is being used to understand what services they need and what works best for them to stop them from becoming homeless. The work is focussing on three areas: • Targeted prevention and outreach work: Officers from across the city and district councils actively seeking out those who may be at risk, and working with them to understand what could cause them to become homeless • Resilience Services: Providing a range of services, including financial and employment advice and mentoring, to encourage behavioural change • Homeless Champions Network: Homeless champions to work with key services, including health services and criminal justice, to assess individuals and help plan their discharge The joint bid, led by Oxford City Council, was to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) £50m programme to prevent homelessness. The funding will be split over 2017/18 and 2018/19 (£395,000 each year). City Conversation In November 2017, more than 100 stakeholders came together to discuss rough sleeping and homelessness in Oxford. The City Conversation, organised by Oxford City Council, included representatives from Oxfordshire’s homelessness organisations; health and mental health providers; faith groups; councils, the police and other public bodies; local councillors; and people with actual experience of rough sleeping. The aim of the City Conversation, which was the largest conversation of its kind to take place in Oxford, was to start to find a common understanding of what causes rough sleeping and street homelessness in Oxford, and to find the means to tackle the issue collectively. This will include consideration of any need for changes to SWEP The first conversation saw a number of core principles and possible objectives going forward agreed between the 100 delegates. Going forwards, the stakeholders will work towards agreeing a Rough Sleeping Charter for Oxford by April 2018, which will provide guiding principles for all concerned to help address the issue. You can read more about the City Conversation by visiting: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/news/article/604/rough_sleeping_the_city_conversation. Church support this winter Churches across Oxford will be opening their doors during January, February and March 2018 to provide emergency accommodation for the city’s rough sleepers. The seven churches – St Aldate’s, St Alban’s, St Clement’s, St Columba’s, St Ebbe’s, St Michael and the Northgate and Wesley Memorial – will each open their doors on a different night of the week. The scheme will provide up to 10 beds for Oxford’s rough sleepers on a first come, first serve basis. For more information and to donate to the project, please visit: http://oxfordanglican.co.uk/oxford-churches-team-up-to-offer-emergency-night-shelter/. Ways you can help There are lots of ways you can help rough sleepers or homeless people in Oxford. Here are just 12: 1. Donate money to the Oxford Homeless Medical Fund instead of giving money to people begging in Oxford: www.oxhop.org.uk/services/medicalfund/. The Oxford Homeless Medical Fund supports welfare, educational and medical services for homeless people in Oxford. The fund’s primary beneficiary is Luther Street Medical Centre, a GP surgery in Oxford for rough sleepers and single homeless people. 2. The simplest way to support Oxford Poverty Action is to make a donation: www.oxpat.org. All donations are distributed via agencies working with homeless and vulnerable people, for example those that provide shelter, food, day services, clothing advice and medical care to people in need. 3. Join Oxford SPOT as a volunteer and go on early morning and late night outreach in the city, assisting rough sleepers off the streets: https://www.mungos.org/our-services/outreach-teams/. Oxford Street Population Outreach Team is a consistent presence on the streets of Oxford. The team work early morning and late nights across the whole City, in order to make contact with rough sleepers, assist in finding suitable housing options and link in with support. 4. Buy The Big Issue from a vendor wearing a red tabard and a badge: www.bigissue.org.uk. The Big Issue represents a meaningful alternative to begging. Big Issue vendors buy the magazine for £1.25 and sell it to the public, for £2.50. This is a real opportunity to start to earn money and is a vital first step for a person as they begin their journey away from homelessness. 5. Have lunch at the Crisis Skylight Café: https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/cafe-from-crisis/oxford/. Great food and drinks in George Street, in the heart of Oxford. The café is a social enterprise that provides on-the-job training for people experiencing homelessness. While you are there, ask staff for opportunities for you to volunteer. 6. Donate warm winter clothes, sleeping bags and toiletries to O’Hanlon House: www.oxhop.org.uk/services/ohanlonhouse/. O’Hanlon House is one of the homeless hostels in Oxford. O’Hanlon House, together with Oxford SPOT, also co-ordinates and provides emergency provision for rough sleepers in severe winter weather and your donations will help them continue to do this. 7. Give your unwanted furniture to Emmaus Oxford, visit the store at Barns Road and buy quality second hand items: https://www.emmaus.org.uk/oxford Emmaus Oxford store on Barns Road sells second hand goods and furniture at very good prices. The store is run by the companions of Emmaus Oxford. Emmaus tackles problems of homelessness by offering a home, a job, new skills and a sense of belonging. 8. Buy gifts at the Shop at the Old Fire Station: https://oldfirestation.org.uk/shop-cafe/shop/. Independent handcrafted good including jewellery, textiles, stationary and more. Money from purchases goes back into funding Arts at the Old Fire Station’s work with homelessness charity Crisis, offering training and volunteering opportunities. Open Tue – Sat 11am – 6pm. 9. Volunteer your time or donate funds and goods to The Porch Day Centre: www.theporch.org.uk. The Porch is a day centre based in East Oxford, providing company, support, food, shower and laundry facilities to people who have experienced homelessness and those who are vulnerably housed. They promote a range of activities and you can help by volunteering: help in the kitchen, making preserves, working on allotments, helping with IT and office skills, and talking to and befriending members. 10. Contract Aspire to do work for your organisation or business: www.aspireoxford.co.uk. Offer work and training opportunities and training through own social enterprises to those who have experienced disadvantage and who may be facing complex barriers to employment. Services offered include grounds maintenance, recruitment, property services and removals. 11. Donate cash, food, clothes, or volunteer with Gatehouse: www.oxfordgatehouse.org Gatehouse is a local charity that provides food, company and activities. Based in the city centre and open two hours six evenings per week. 12. Volunteer with Connection Support or donate cash by texting CNFS15 £10 (£1 to £5 or £10) to 70070 and make a difference today: http://www.connectionsupport.org.uk/oxfordshire/. Connection Support Provides a breadth of specialised support services to people facing complex life challenges, including ‘floating support’ and provision of supported accommodation for rough sleepers and single homeless people.

11 months ago
Where are our promised 1,000 Westgate bike racks?

The Westgate Shopping Centre redevelopment has not yet been fully completed – workers are still on site and there are some shops still to be completed and a lot of work around the edges of the new development. Oxford City Council, as the city’s planning authority, insisted on bicycle parking being included in the Westgate Shopping Centre redevelopment and we are pleased that new bike racks for 1,000 bicycles will be installed as part of the development. The provision of the bike racks for 1,000 bicycles is a requirement of the planning permission for the new Westgate Shopping Centre. The development was created followed extensive public consultation with stakeholders, including cycling groups in Oxford such as Cyclox. This consultation included the location and type of bike racks that would be installed. Sadly, although 180 cycle spaces have been installed, the installation of the majority of the new bike racks has been delayed. Last week the Westgate Shopping Centre developer apologised for this delay, and again reassured the City Council and the public that it will install all the bike racks and meet the planning requirement. On Friday, the City Council installed 50 temporary bike racks in St Ebbes Street. We are disappointed that the cycle parking was not fully installed prior to the shopping centre being opened, and are working with the developers to ensure that it is installed and operational as soon as possible.

1 year ago
Stop targeting Oxford's rough sleepers

This is a fire safety issue. Bags had been left outside a city centre shop for more than a year. We asked the owners of the bags on numerous occasions not to obstruct the fire escape. Work recently began on the refurbishment of the shop and the City Council was asked by the building company to assist in the removal of the bags because they were blocking fire exit routes, therefore posing a risk to those working inside. Council officers issued Community Protection Notices on the unattended items and gave the owners of the bags two days to remove them. Community Protection Notices required the owners to remove the items and allow the City Council to remove any abandoned obstructions. It is our legal duty to inform anyone in receipt of a notice of all possible sanctions, whether they are to be used or not, including a possible court imposed fine of up to £2,500. After two days the owners removed all their belongings. What was left was a soiled duvet and pieces of cardboard, which we disposed of. No one was fined, and the fire escape is no longer blocked. Each year we spend £1.4m on homeless services, including day services providing food, laundry and shower facilities, outreach and resettlement services, mental health support, and a broad range of accommodation including provision for young people, people with complex needs, those who are working and emergency provision in winter. We also fund a range of services that provide support, including the Big Issue and education, training and employment services, as well as prevention for people at risk of homelessness who are fleeing violence, tenancy sustainment support, and welfare reform assistance. Last year we helped win £790,000 of government funding to support vulnerable single homeless adults in Oxfordshire, we have contributed £15m to purchasing properties to house homeless Oxford families, and we have retained our 7,800 council houses to provide affordable rents. We take this national homelessness tragedy that is playing out on the streets of our city very seriously; we are very aware of the circumstances of the people on the streets of Oxford, the risks they face and their support needs, and work very hard with our partners so that no one should have to be homeless. On this occasion we had to balance the desire for people to leave their possessions in a fire escape with the risk this posed to the people working in the building.

1 year ago
Don't threaten homeless people with fines

This is a fire safety issue. Bags had been left outside a city centre shop for more than a year. We asked the owners of the bags on numerous occasions not to obstruct the fire escape. Work recently began on the refurbishment of the shop and the City Council was asked by the building company to assist in the removal of the bags because they were blocking fire exit routes, therefore posing a risk to those working inside. Council officers issued Community Protection Notices on the unattended items and gave the owners of the bags two days to remove them. Community Protection Notices required the owners to remove the items and allow the City Council to remove any abandoned obstructions. It is our legal duty to inform anyone in receipt of a notice of all possible sanctions, whether they are to be used or not, including a possible court imposed fine of up to £2,500. After two days the owners removed all their belongings. What was left was a soiled duvet and pieces of cardboard, which we disposed of. No one was fined, and the fire escape is no longer blocked. Each year we spend £1.4m on homeless services, including day services providing food, laundry and shower facilities, outreach and resettlement services, mental health support, and a broad range of accommodation including provision for young people, people with complex needs, those who are working and emergency provision in winter. We also fund a range of services that provide support, including the Big Issue and education, training and employment services, as well as prevention for people at risk of homelessness who are fleeing violence, tenancy sustainment support, and welfare reform assistance. Last year we helped win £790,000 of government funding to support vulnerable single homeless adults in Oxfordshire, we have contributed £15m to purchasing properties to house homeless Oxford families, and we have retained our 7,800 council houses to provide affordable rents. We take this national homelessness tragedy that is playing out on the streets of our city very seriously; we are very aware of the circumstances of the people on the streets of Oxford, the risks they face and their support needs, and work very hard with our partners so that no one should have to be homeless. On this occasion we had to balance the desire for people to leave their possessions in a fire escape with the risk this posed to the people working in the building.

1 year ago
Tell Oxford City Council to spend its homeless fund on emergency winter accommodation

Dear all, The basis of this petition is false. Oxford City Council provides £1.4m of grants to Oxford’s homelessness charities every year. This money funds a wide range of services and beds for rough sleepers. As part of this £1.4m funding, the City Council operates a ‘severe weather emergency provision’ fund, which opens additional beds for rough sleepers when the temperature is forecast to fall below 0°C for three or more nights. This emergency provision fund has provided help for homeless individuals 313 times over 18 nights since November. During those 18 nights, 34 beds were available and the highest uptake was 30 people – meaning there were always at least 4 beds available for rough sleepers even on the busiest nights. It is therefore completely untrue to say that Oxford City Council has “left homeless people to freeze on our streets” – Oxford City Council does more than anyone to help Oxford’s homeless. On top of this, Oxford City Council has a £952,000 reserve to support people who are homeless or vulnerably housed. This was created because of Oxford’s ‘double whammy’ of rising housing costs and shrinking support. Oxfordshire County Council has cut its entire £1.5m budget to support homelessness charities, and the Government has further cut the benefit cap, which will affect hundreds of households with children in the city struggling to afford rent. Given these massive threats hanging over families in Oxford, we think it would be utterly irresponsible for the City Council to spend all or most of its reserve as a one-off. Finally, we are unsure where the “over 100 homeless people sleeping rough in Oxford” information has come from. The last official street count indicated that there are currently about 30 individuals sleeping on streets in Oxford. Each and every one of those individuals has been contacted by the City Council with offers of support. Thank you for your time, Oxford City Council

2 years ago
Help re-open Lucy Faithfull House homeless accommodation

Dear all, Thank you for your interest in Oxford’s homelessness services. However, we want to take this opportunity to correct some of the information in this petition: • Although Oxford City Council owns the land, Riverside Housing Association has a long-term lease on the Lucy Faithful House site. Riverside has told the City Council that they will not surrender the lease unless we pay them £1m • Oxfordshire County Council had commissioned the homeless services at Lucy Faithful House, not Oxford City Council. But from early 2016 the contract for the 61 beds at Lucy Faithful House was given, by Oxfordshire County Council, to two other service providers. These organisations have provided 62 beds, so there is currently more accommodation in Oxford for homeless adults • Oxfordshire County Council has decided to cut all of its £1.5m funding of homelessness charities in Oxfordshire, starting in April this year. The money will be phased out by April 2019 • By contrast, Oxford City Council is committed to maintaining its £1.4m of funding to Oxford’s homelessness charities, which fund a range of support services We cannot afford to replace Oxfordshire County Council’s funding, and therefore reopening Lucy Faithful House is not a sustainable option. If Riverside Housing Association agreed to surrender the lease, we would redevelop the site for affordable homes – not “luxury housing”. Oxford City Council’s work now is focussed on mitigating the impact of Oxfordshire County Council’s cuts to Oxford’s homelessness services, and maintaining the current level of beds in the city. We think this is the correct focus. If you would like to know more about our work to tackle homelessness in Oxford, please visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/homelessness. Finally, it is misleading to say the petition will be debated if it receives 1,500 signatures. The opposition motion will be debated as all motions to the City Council are. You are all more than welcome to attend the budget meeting, in Oxford Town Hall at 5pm on Monday 20 February. Thank you for your time, Oxford City Council

2 years ago