Agenda item

Agenda item

Waterways Public Space Protection Order: pre-consultation

Contact Officer: Richard Adams, Community Safety Service Manager,

Tel 01865 252283,



Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee has asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.

Why is it on the agenda?

The City Executive Board will be asked to approve the recommendations set out in the report at its meeting on 17 March 2016. This is an opportunity for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.

Who has been invited to comment?

The Executive Board Member, Crime, Community Safety and Licensing and the Community Response Team Supervisor will attend to answer the Committee’s questions.



The Chair welcomed the members of the public to the meeting and set out the procedure that the meeting would follow.  He explained that the Scrutiny Committee would consider the Waterways PSPO report and if necessary make recommendations to the City Executive Board.  He stressed that the decision to proceed with consultation on the Waterways PSPO was a matter for the City Executive Board.


Councillor Sinclair, Executive Board Member, Crime, Community Safety and Licensing and the Community Response Team Supervisor presented the report. They said that the draft PSPO was intended to promote appropriate behaviours on the City waterways and to improve the overall environment for the boating community, residents and all visitors and users of the river and riverbanks.


The Committee heard addresses from Councillor David Thomas and from the following members of the public:


·         Dr Alex J Wood – representing members of the boating community

·         Mr Edward Surridge – member of the boating community

·         Sharyn Hyde – member of the boating community

·         Julian LeVay – representing residents of Abbey Road

·         John Ody – member of the boating community


Copies of the public addresses (where available) and additional written submissions to the Committee are published in a supplement to these minutes.


The Committee recognised that there are a number of issues affecting Oxford waterways and its users that should be addressed. 


The Committee identified a number of concerns about the proposed consultation, including but not limited to:

  • The need for early engagement with key stakeholders, such as multiple landowners in order to seek their views prior to a public consultation
  • Whether some issues could be resolved if a more collaborative approach was taken to addressing these with interested parties such as UMBEG (Unlawfully Moored Boat Enforcement Group) and NBTA (National Bargee Travellers Association)
  • The need to provide more context and explanation as to why a PSPO is being considered and what difference it could make, including a preamble to the consultation
  • The need for robust plans and sufficient time to identify and engage with people who may be affected by the proposed PSPO, including land owners and some business owners, and for officers to hand-deliver consultation letters to people who may move in and out of accommodation on the waterways and in and out of the city 
  • The need to allow sufficient time after the consultation to reflect on responses received


The Committee also expressed reservations about the robustness of the evidence presented in Appendix 1.  These included concerns about the following:

·        The age and relevance of some of the instances presented

·        The rationale and justification for the proposed boundaries.  For example, a lack of evidence to justify including some specific Oxford waterways, such as the river Cherwell, in the proposed restricted area


The Committee also felt that the wording of the draft PSPO should be reviewed, in particularbut not limited to:

  • That the wording of part c) ‘no person shall store items…or erect structures’ had significant implications for the homeless population
  • That the wording of part d) ‘no person shall create smoke…causing annoyance to others’ could potentially include boat owners burning wood fuel to heat their boats, which should be treated differently from, for example, diesel fumes being emitted for a long period of time from stationary vessels.  The Committee questioned whether smoke nuisance issues could be dealt with using existing environmental powers.
  • That the wording of part e) ‘No person shall tamper with the waterways habitats’ is too unclear given that many habitats require active management and conservation.
  • That the wording of part g) ‘in charge of more than four dogs’ could potentially include ‘the lady with several small poodles’.


There was also some discussion about whether the validity of the proposed PSPO could be legally challenged.


In conclusion the Committee reflected as to whether the issues and concerns raised should be picked up during the proposed consultation or addressed before the start of the proposed consultation.  The Committee then voted on which of the following two proposals to support:


  1. Proceed with the consultation as planned with the existing documentation and PSPO as currently drafted


  1. Revise the documentation, PSPO and consultation proposals in collaboration with interested parties before consulting on an improved proposal for an Oxford waterways PSPO


By majority vote the second proposal was agreed.


The Committee AGREED to submit the following recommendation to the City Executive Board:

1.    That the Council should revise the documentation, draft Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) and consultation proposals in collaboration with interested parties before consulting on an improved proposal for an Oxford Waterways PSPO.


Supporting documents: