Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Plowman Room - Oxford Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Stefan Robinson
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
Welcome from the Chair and brief round table introductions.
During introductions, the Review Group heard that the University Church of St Mary the Virgin is one of the most visited churches in England, with approximately 500,000 visitors each year. The Oxford Tube service to London was the most frequent inter-city service in England.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for ansence were received on behalf of Councillor Kennedy. Councillor Fry gave apologies for being absent for part of the meeting.
To note the minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 February 2019.
Councillor Wolff said that in relation to the notes of the previous meeting, he said a desktop exercise concerning a cable car should focus principally on the planning aspects of such a development.
As background information, the meeting has also been provided with the following papers:
a) A background report concerning in Oxford.
b) An answer sheet responding to questions from the previous meeting.
c) A report concerning hotels and short stay accommodation in Oxford.
d) A scoping document which sets out the purpose of the Review.
Guests will be invited to make any opening statements if they wish, and the meeting will then move to questions and open discussion. This agenda will be reissued once guests are finalised. Confirmed external guests include:
· Sushila Dhall, Oxford Pedestrians Association
· Jeremy Mogford, Mogford Hotels and Restaurants
· Felicity Lewington, Oxford Guild of Tour Guides
· Rob Hough, Oxford Tube Operations Manager
· Dr Rebecca Hawkins, MD of the Responsible Hospitality Partnership
· Reverend William Lamb, University Church of St Mary the Virgin
· Martin Kraftl, Oxfordshire County Council Principal Transport Planner
· Jack Creeber, Oxfordshire County Council Interim Parking Manager
Examples of questions and themes that may be discussed include:
a) How could the City better harness the benefits of tourism?
b) How could coach access, parking and drop-off locations be better managed?
c) What actions could be taken to support long term sustainable tourism?
d) What digital innovations could improve the visitor and resident experience?
e) What could be done to improve wayfinding and pedestrian flows in the City?
f) Would there be value in introducing a tourist levy on hotel rooms or coaches?
g) What future tourism challenges will local businesses and operators face?
The Review Group specifically considered the matter of Coaches. Robert Smith, a resident of North Oxford, had submitted a paper in advance of the meeting. He explained that some coaches were:
· Parking for free in side streets and resident bays in North Oxford
· Parking over cycle lanes
· Carrying out unsafe manoeuvres, such as U-turns in residential areas
· Idling in residential areas
He said this was principally driven by insufficient coach parking facilities. A solution he said was to introduce high quality facilities for drivers at Water Eaton Park and Ride, ban coaches on streets within the ring road, and invest in high capacity electric coaches with high frequency trips into the centre. He said there was a business case for this by generating income through parking fees for reinvestment back into the County’s roads.
The Chair invited Martin Kraftl, Oxfordshire County Council Principal Transport Planner and Jack Creeber, Oxfordshire County Council Interim Parking Manager, to respond to the proposal. Martin asked the question:
Does the City want to encourage visitors and tourists to come to the City?
The answer, he said, had not been clear to date. On the one hand, there was a narrative from some of problematizing matters relating to tourism, and on the other, the City benefitted significantly from an economic and cultural perspective. A much more strategic view was needed, and before thought was given to the detail of coach management, the City needed to have a joined up perspective on what its ambition and vision was for tourism, and the transport planning would follow that vision. There also needed to be clarity on whether the City welcomed coaches.
Operationally, tourist coaches were often full, and were operating as part of a package deal. Any suggestion of breaking the journey and introducing transfers to other vehicles will likely reduce the viability of the service, and put some people off. Previously, Oxpens worked well as a coach park, with up to 100 coaches using the service on busy days. It was close enough to the town centre for people to walk from. He said the fundamental question of whether the City wanted a coach park in the city centre needed to be answered. Any coach park would need good facilities for drivers which would incentivise them to use the service. He concluded that seasonality and peak season were a significant factor to consider when assessing demand.
Jack Creeber said that Water Eaton did have a dedicate coach parking area, but it was not clear why this had been closed off. This could be brought back into use with minimal expenditure and work. He reiterated the view that there must be incentives for drivers to use such a service. There were not sufficient incentives to use Redbridge Park and Ride spaces as it was rarely used to capacity. Jason Munro at the City Council may have the relevant data on how often the facilities at Redbride were used.
There were a good number of spaces for coach ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
To clarify the actions agreed and next steps of the review.
The Chair said he had secured a meeting with the deputy Leader of York City Council and would be visiting some councillors in Cambridge in the near future, as he was in both of those cities for personal reasons. He said he would be attending on behalf of the Panel, would discuss the review groups key issues, and report back.
DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS
The following dates are scheduled for the Review Group:
· 20 March
· 27 March
· 11 April
· 9 May
The Review Group noted that its next meeting was on 20 March 2019.