Issue - meetings

Issue - meetings

Oxford's Waterways

Meeting: 08/06/2022 - Scrutiny Committee (Item 8)

8 Waterways update pdf icon PDF 254 KB

The Scrutiny Committee in 2021/22 commissioned a waterways update report from the Head of Community Services.

Michael Woods, Oxford Waterways Coordinator, have been invited to present the report and answer questions.

The Committee is recommended to note and comment on the report. The Committee may also wish to consider making recommendations to Cabinet.

Additional documents:


The Waterways Co-ordinator introduced the report which provided an update on recommendations made by the Committee in November 2020. Since then the priorities had shifted because a number of health and safety issues had been identified which had taken a high priority. An asset management system was being established. It was difficult to determine riparian ownership. Designated bathing status had recently been achieved for Wolvercote Mill Stream. This meant that water quality would be monitored closely but did not necessarily mean that the stream was fit for swimming.


The Committee welcomed the report and in discussion noted that:

·         Parts of the waterways were deteriorating and there were issues around anti-social behaviour, bio-diversity and accessibility. The Council should look at targeting specific areas for improvement.

·         There needed to be a role for the university and colleges in contributing to the improvement of the watersways; communication with them had been limited but there was scope to do more. It was suggested that the Council should work with them and to pitch for external funding.

·         Any budget bid for waterways improvements would need to be considered in the round and priority would have to be given to addressing urgent health and safety issues.

·         There was a need to increase mooring provision although the Environment Agency had advised that no permanent facilities could be added on the main waterways, other sites would need to be considered.

·         The discharge of sewage into the waterways was a serious concern and Thames Water had accepted some responsibility. It was suggested that water quality data should be used to lobby government and the Environment Agency to hold Thames Water to account.

·         A working group had been established to support the bathing water status. This was a five year project and the public would be better informed of water quality.

·         Waterways infrastructure needed to be safe, enabling safe means for users to enter and exit the water. The Council was working with specialist consultants on this.

·         There was an ongoing conversation with community groups and members about the former open air swimming pool Tumbling Bay where the concrete was at risk of slipping in. There was a need to decide on options and then to secure funding.


The Committee resolved to note the report and agree to produce a report to Cabinet with recommendations based on the discussion, which would come to the next meeting of the Committee for approval.