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Oxford City Council

PO Box 10, Oxford, OX1 1EN
Tel 01865 249811
Web http://www.oxford.gov.uk/

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Frequently asked questions

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Business

I am setting up a business; can you send me some Health and Safety information?
The Health and Safety Executive website is full of useful information and has a special section for businesses.

Business: Licensing

I need a liquor licence; do I get that from you?
Yes. The Licensing Act 2003 moved responsibility for liquor licensing to local authorities. See the Licensing Section for more details.
Links relevant to this FAQ
Licensing
I want to open a pet shop. Where can I obtain information about the licence required and the fees payable?
Please use the relevant link below.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Pet Shop licensing
I want to be licensed as a door supervisor. Where can I obtain information about the licence required and the fees payable?
Use the relevant link below

Links relevant to this FAQ
Security Industry Authority

Business: Selling to the council

What tender documentation do I need to do business with the Council?
The tender documentation will be as supplied for the work for which the tenders are being sought.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Selling to the council
I am in business and wish to compete (tender) for contracts to supply Oxford City Council with goods and services. Where can I obtain information outlining the process involved?
Visit our Selling to the Council pages.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Selling to the council
What Council policies/legislation should I be aware of in my dealings as regards the supply of goods and services to the Council?
Depending on the contract being sought, these could include the following policies: Equal Opportunities, Health and Safety, Race Equality and the requirements of the Human Rights Act.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Selling to the council
Where does the Council advertise tenders?
All tenders are advertised in at least one local newspaper and a relevant trade paper/journal. Where required by European Union procurement rules, tenders are also advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Selling to the council - How we advertise

Community

How do I contact the Citizens' Advice Bureau?
Oxford has a Citizens' Advice Bureau at 95 St Aldate's, Oxford. Use the link below to visit their website.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Citizens Advice Bureau
I want to do some family history research, can you help?
Visit the Oxfordshire County Council's website by using the link below.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Oxfordshire County Council - Family History
Where can I find local historical records?
Visit the Family History pages of the Oxfordshire County Council website.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Oxfordshire County Council - Family History
How do I register a birth, death or marriage in Oxfordshire?
Visit the Births, Deaths and Marriages pages of Oxfordshire County Council's website.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Oxfordshire County Council - Births, deaths and marriages
Does Oxford City Council carry out Commons Registration Searches?
Oxford City Council does not carry out Commons Registration Searches. These should be referred to: Oxfordshire County Council, County Hall, New Road, Oxford, OX1 1ND Telephone: 01865 810806

Community > Disability and accessibility

What is the Typetalk number for Oxford City Council?
RNID Typetalk is the only national telephone relay service which enables deaf, deafblind, deafened, hard of hearing and speech-impaired people to communicate with hearing people anywhere in the world. RNID Typetalk provides a link between the textphone user and the hearing person. The link is a highly trained RNID Typetalk Operator who understands the needs of deaf and speech-impaired people and provides a discreet and confidential service. Textphone users dial direct using the 18001 prefix before the number of the person they would like to speak to and RNID Typetalk Operator joins the line to relay the conversation. The textphone user will then type their part of the conversation. A RNID Typetalk Operator will read exactly what is typed to the hearing person. The hearing person replies and the RNID Typetalk Operator will type exactly what is said so the textphone user can read the response on their textphone display panel. If you a making a call to a textphone user then dial 18002 before dialling the full telephone number of the person you would like to speak to. To find out more visit the RNID website by selecting the link below.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Text Relay

Council

How long does it take payments made by Post, Standing Order, via the Post Office or your website to reach you?
Please be aware that there is a delay with payments sent by Post, made by Standing order, at the Post Office or via the Internet. However they still need to clear and reach the Council by the due date each month. To ensure that your payment reaches us on time we recommend that you make the payment at least seven days before the due date.
How do I complain about a particular service provided about Oxford City Council?
Visit our Comments, Compliments and Complaints page for full details

Council > Councillors

Who is my local councillor?
Visit our Councillors pages to find out who represents you.

Links relevant to this FAQ
City councillors

Council > Elections and voting

How can I check if my name is on the Electoral Register?
Please contact us on 01865 249811 and we will check for you. There is no online access to the Electoral Register.
What do I do if I find my name is not included in the register?
You will need to complete an application to be registered as electors. The form can be obtained online or from the Electoral Services Office, Town Hall, St. Aldate's, Oxford OX1 1BX

Links relevant to this FAQ
Registering to vote
Will I be able to vote as soon as I have completed the Registration Form?
No. Your registration details will be updated between 2-6 weeks from receipt of the application. You will be notified as soon as your name has been added to the register.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Registering to vote
I have lost the address of a relative. Can I look up her name on the electoral register?
No, the register is set out by address and not by name.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Registering to vote
Can I look someone up on the voters list?
Yes, a copy of the full register is on public deposit at the Town Hall, St Aldate's Oxford. You do need to know the address, or at least the street of the person who you are looking for.
I can't get to the Polling Station on Election Day and I do not want to vote by post. Can you help?
You can appoint someone else to cast your vote at the polling station. This is called a PROXY vote.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Postal and proxy voting
If I pay Council Tax, am I on the Electoral Register?
No. The Council Tax list is independent of the electoral register. To register to vote you must complete a voter registration application.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Registering to vote
How do I vote by post?
You can apply to vote by post. You will need to complete an application. You have the choice of voting by post for as long as you like or for one election only. Application forms are available online.
Links relevant to this FAQ
Postal and proxy voting
Where can I find a list of the Oxford polling stations?
A list will be available on our website at election time. If you want to know where your polling station is at any other time please contact the Electoral Services Office.

Council > Finance

I want to make suggestions about how the council should spend its money. How do I do this?
Every year with consult on our budget over the summer and autumn regarding choices, spend and savings. You can also make suggestions through your ward councillors.
What rights do I have in terms of complaining/objecting about the council's finances?
You can object or complain if you believe the Council have acted illegally or outside their powers, but not if you just disagree. As a citizen you have various rights to expect a level of standard from the council.
Is the Council delivering value for money?
Auditors have acknowledged our work and commitment to value for money and improving our services. We have established a strategy for dealing with value for money and improving our services, which focuses on further understanding our costs across the directorates. Oxford is in a high cost part of the country as far as rents, rates and salaries are concerned. We pay out more money in some areas than others, for example Oxford has one of the highest percentages of homelessness and therefore we spend more money trying to counteract the problem.
Can I speak to the Council's Auditors?
You should raise your concerns with the City Council first and if you are not happy with the response you have the right to contact our internal or external Auditors.
How can I find out about previous accounts?
To view our accounts for previous years visit the page below.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Our accounts
How can I find out about in year monitoring?
As budgets are an educated estimate of how we think the money will be spent in a year, we produce monthly reports to Councillors, which show us whether or not we are meeting our targets and enable us to adapt our spending to areas it is most needed.

Council > How the Council works

What is the name of Oxford City Council's Chief Executive?
Peter Sloman, Chief Executive, Oxford City Council, Town Hall, St. Aldate's, Oxford OX1 1BX

Environment > Environmental Health

Can you deal with noise from barking dogs?
Yes we can if they are causing a statutory nuisance. Most dogs bark from time to time for short periods, for example when somebody visits the house, but they soon stop. In this type of case we would be unlikely to take action. However, some dogs will bark continuously for long periods, particularly if their owner is not at home. For this type of circumstance we are more likely to take action. If you have a complaint you can contact us.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Stray dogs and dog wardens
My dog keeps barking continuously when I'm not at home. How can I stop this happening?
There are devices that can be used to retrain you dog so that it doesn't bark continuously. For more information you can contact our Dog Warden service.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Stray dogs and dog wardens
Can the council help with pest infestation?
The Council provides a pest control service. The service focuses mainly on those pests that are a public health problem so there are some pests that we do not treat for.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Pest control
Can the council help with a rat or mice infestation?
The council will treat for rats or mice in domestic properties. There is a charge for this service. If you are on benefits you may be eligible for a discount.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Pest control
Can the council help with ants infestation?
The Council will treat black and red ants' nests in domestic properties. There is a charge for this service. If you are on benefits you may be eligible for a discount. There is a very small type of ant called the Pharaoh's ant and we will only treat infestations in Council houses. If you speak to the pest control service they will be able to give you advice on Pharaoh's ants.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Pest control
Can the council help with cockroach infestation?
The council will treat cockroaches in domestic properties. There is a charge for this service. If you are on benefits you may be eligible for a discount.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Pest control
Can the council help with wasp infestation?
The council will treat wasps nests in domestic properties. There is a charge for this service. If you are on benefits you may be eligible for a discount.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Pest control
Can the council help with flea infestation?
The council will treat fleas in domestic properties. There is a charge for this service. If you are on benefits you may be eligible for a discount.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Pest control
I want to get rid of squirrels that appear to be nesting in my loft.
The council will only deal with squirrels if you are a council tenant. If you are not a council tenant the best thing to do is look in yellow pages for a pest control contractor.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Council housing estate management
My neighbour has rats in their garden. Can you send pest control to them?
We will visit your property first so that you can show us your concerns. If your neighbour has rats the chances are that they will be coming onto your property too. If the pest control surveyor is satisfied there is a problem they will take the matter up with your neighbour and treat the rats. If your neighbour refuses to allow the council to help we have the power to make them get rid of the rats.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Pest control
Can you tell me whom to contact to get a Health and Safety Law poster?
Visit the Health and Safety Executive website.
I am setting up a business; can you send me some Health and Safety information?
The Health and Safety Executive website is full of useful information and has a special section for businesses.
What do I do if my care home or day care centre is having problems with pests?
Care homes or Day Care centres should contact a private pest control contractor if they are having problems with pests. These can be found in yellow pages under pest control contractor.

Food Safety FAQs
The staff in my local shop serve cakes and bread and then handle money without washing their hands. Is this a health risk?
Current opinion is that money does not provide ideal conditions for bacterial growth, therefore the risk of cross-contamination from money to food is minimal. Accordingly, there is no specific legal prohibition on staff handling both money and food. However, we do recommend that staff maintain good personal hygiene by frequently washing their hands and also to avoid excessive handling of open food.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Food safety
What do I need to busk in Oxford?
You need a permit to busk in Oxford. If you come into Reception at St Aldate's Chambers, 109 St Aldate's, Oxford, OX1 1DS our receptionists will be able to give you a permit and there is a leaflet with all of the areas you are allowed to busk on. If you would like to call before you visit our office the number is 01865 249811. You may need to bring in some identification or other documents - please check before you visit.

Environment > Environmental Monitoring

Can you do anything about noise from cars and lorries on the highway?
We do not have any powers to deal with noise from traffic on the highway. However we do have powers to deal with some noise from individual vehicles, such as intruder alarms and refrigeration plant on lorries. The Police using Road Traffic law deal with other noise issues such as sounding car horns at certain times.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise Pollution
Can you do anything about noise from aeroplanes and helicopters?
We do not have any powers to deal with noise from aircraft, but you can complain to Kidlington Airport if the aircraft is using that airport, or the Civil Aviation Authority for other civilian aircraft and RAF Brize Norton for military aircraft.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Civil Aviation Authority
Can you deal with the noise from vehicle or intruder alarms?
We can deal with noise from vehicle or house intruder alarms as long as they are causing a statutory nuisance to people in nearby premises. This may involve obtaining a warrant from a Magistrate to enter the house or car to silence the alarm. We also have the power to recover our costs, so it is important to make sure your alarms are not faulty. Also if you have an intruder alarm, Environmental Health should be given an up to date list of key holders that can be contacted in the event of a problem occurring. You can contact Environmental Health to request a key holders form.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise Pollution
Can you deal with noise from factories, warehouses, shops and offices?
We have enforcement powers to deal with noise from these types of premises in the same way as any other noise nuisance complaint. If you wish to make a complaint please contact us.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise pollution
Can you deal with noise from pubs and clubs?
We have enforcement powers to deal with noise from these types of premises in the same way as any other noise nuisance complaint. Also, there are additional powers if the premises has a public entertainment license, whereby the premises has to comply with certain conditions, including noise conditions.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise pollution
Are mobile phone masts a health hazard?
A group of independent experts investigated the possible health effects posed by mobile phone technology on behalf of the government in 2000. The conclusion was that there is no general risk to the health of people living near base stations, on the basis that exposures are small fractions of the international guidelines.

Noise FAQs
How do I make a complaint about noise?
All noise complaints, whether about barking dogs, noisy neighbours or noisy commercial premises should be made by contacting us.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise pollution
What service can I expect if I make a noise complaint?
If you are making a complaint for the first time we would normally write a letter advising the person causing the problem and hopefully this will be all that is required for the matter to be resolved. We will also write to you, enclosing a diary sheet to be filled in and returned. If things do not improve you will need to return the diary sheet and we will decide whether a visit should be made. If we witness a statutory nuisance we will serve an abatement notice on the person causing the problem, and if nuisance continues the Council has powers to prosecute the person responsible or even confiscate their possessions.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise pollution
The Water Board have just turned up and are opening up the road, they started at 6.00am. Can they do this?
If the work is an emergency, such as a burst water main or gas leak the Public Utilities can come and carry out repairs at any time. However, normal, programmed work can be restricted so as not to cause sleep disturbance.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise pollution
What is a nuisance?
There is lots of case law on what is or is not a nuisance. In summary, a nuisance is an unreasonable activity that seriously affects the reasonable enjoyment or use of your home. There are 9 categories of nuisance contained in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and these are the ones that the council can take action for. They include noise, dust, smoke, rubbish and smells. But you can also take your own private court case for anything you consider to be interfering with the reasonable enjoyment of your home.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise pollution
Where can I find out if there is any contaminated land in Oxford?
There are many areas of Oxford, which have been used for industrial and commercial purposes and may have resulted in the land being polluted. Many of the old industrial areas were cleaned up when the land was redeveloped. There may still be polluted land, which if redeveloped will require remediation as a condition of the planning permission. We are also obliged by law to inspect the Oxford City area for possible contaminated sites, and if we can show that the condition of the land is causing significant harm to human health or ecosystems, we must declare the land as Contaminated Land and place the information on a public register.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Land pollution
If I am in a Smoke Control Area can I have a bonfire?
Yes you can because Smoke Control Area Legislation does not cover bonfires, but you must not cause a smoke nuisance. However, it is best to avoid having a bonfire if possible because it adds to the air pollution. The alternatives are to compost garden waste, recycle it using our waste collections service, shred woody waste or take it to a waste recycling centre. Household waste should never be burned and should be put out for collection by the council. It is not an offence to have a bonfire, but it is an offence to cause a smoke nuisance to you neighbours. So there are some common sense precautions to follow to reduce the likelihood of causing a problem: Only burn dry material Never burn household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing, plastic, foam or paint. Never use engine oil or petrol to start a fire. Never burn on cold, damp days as the smoke hangs around on the air. Never burn on a windy day, as the smoke will be blown into neighbours gardens. Avoid burning on weekends or during the day when people are trying to enjoy their gardens or have washing hanging out
What does living in a Smoke Control Area mean?
It means that if you want to have a domestic fire you must use an Authorised Fuel (or smokeless fuel) or use an Exempted Fireplace, which will burn normal fuel, such as wood or coal without releasing excessive amounts of smoke. Wood and ordinary household coal are not authorised fuels, however products such as Rexco and Coalite are.

Environment > Household Waste and Recycling

How do I get rid of asbestos?
The council doesn't provide a service to collect asbestos. Only specialised companies can transport asbestos waste. However, members of the public can dispose of a limited amount of asbestos free of charge at the Redbridge Waste Recycling Centre, Abingdon Road, Oxford. The asbestos should be dampened with water, wrapped in strong polythene or bagged, and sealed. Upon arrival you must report to the site office, where you will be told which skip to put the asbestos in. It is ESSENTIAL to phone the site beforehand to make sure the asbestos skip is available, as you will not be able to leave it anywhere else on the site if the skip is full.
How do I report a waste collection problem?
Use this link to get to our Recycling and Waste Collection pages, where you will find more information on our services and how to contact us.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Household Recycling and Waste
How do I report flytipping?
Use the relevant link below

Links relevant to this FAQ
Flytipping
How can I get rid of a bulky item of household waste?
Use the relevant link below

Links relevant to this FAQ
Bulky waste collection
Does the Council provide rubbish bins?
We provide one free wheelie bin for each household. These are designed to fit onto the vehicle bin lifts, and provide a safe way to store your household refuse until bin day. If you think your bin is too small or large, please get in touch with us.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Household Recycling and Waste
How can I find out what day my rubbish is due to be collected?
Use the link below for information about which day your collection is on and what recycling and waste containers will be collected each week.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Waste and recycling collection days
Does the Council have information on compost bins?
For more information on how to get a discounted composter, follow the link below.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Garden waste and composting
When is Redbridge Waste Recycling Centre open?
Visit the Redbridge Waste Recycling Centre pages of the Oxfordshire County Council website for full details.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Recycling bring banks
What happens on public holidays?
Special arrangements will be made for public holiday collections, to ensure that householders generally do not have to wait more than the normal two weeks between collections. Holiday collection days are published on the main recycling pages of this website.
Do I have to wash my tins, glass and plastic?
It is not essential to wash and squash tins and plastic, but this will help to avoid smells in the blue box and will give you more space. It will also make life more pleasant for our collection crews. You can put the caps back onto plastic bottles. You do not have to remove labels from containers.
Why is my recycling bin or box sometimes left in the road?
Our crews work hard to make sure your containers are returned to where you left them, but sometimes they do end up in the wrong place. This can often be for reasons beyond our control: if it is a very windy day, or if passers-by interfere with them, for example. If you have ongoing problems, please contact us to let us know and we will do all we can to put the situation right. If your containers are lost, stolen or damaged, contact us on 01865 249811.
Can I put cat litter and dog faeces into the brown garden waste bin?
Cat litter and faeces should not be placed in the brown bin, since it is not suitable for composting. Please place these items in the green wheelie bin, double-wrapping them to avoid any unpleasant smells.
Why can't my refuse be collected every week?
All residents receive a collection every week, whether it is refuse or recycling. We introduced the alternate weekly collection scheme in order to provide an improved recycling service, and to reduce the amount of waste put into the household waste bin (which goes to landfill). Many Oxford residents have told us they want us to collect more recycling, and every resident must play their part in solving this problem. Those local authorities with the highest recycling rates have found that alternate weekly collection is key to encouraging residents to recycle. Residents who find that they experience difficulty with the alternate weekly collections are advised to contact us for help.
How will you stop wheelie bins cluttering up pavements?
We do not expect residents who live in properties with no front garden to use wheelie bins, and do not deliver bins to them. These residents will instead get branded sacks. In general terms, we expect residents to take all reasonable steps to avoid a nuisance or a danger from obstructing the footway. Although we will try to persuade people to put their bin out on the day of collection only, we do have powers to take action against those who place waste out too early or who leave containers out too long, and we are employ enforcement staff for this purpose.
How do I recycle garden waste?
In May 2011 Oxford City Council began the new city-wide brown wheelie bin/bag subscription service for fortnightly collections of garden waste. Visit our Garden Waste page for full details.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Garen Waste and Composting

Garen Waste Subscription Service FAQs
How do I remember what material goes in which container?
See our What goes into each container page for more information on this subject.

Links relevant to this FAQ
What goes into each container
I am unable to manage a box physically. What alternative is there?
We encourage residents to make use of our Assisted Collection Service, which is designed to help people who might struggle to manage a heavy box or bin. Contact us on 01865 249811 to arrange such a collection, which can be from your garden, doorstep or another place which suits you.
How can I get extra recycling containers?
Please use the link below for details.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Additional recycling containers
How can I prevent smells and unwanted visitors in my refuse bin?
Place food waste in securely tied off plastic bags. Double-wrap food waste and nappies. Keep the bin lid closed. Try to avoid storing the bin in direct sunlight. Rinse empty containers before putting them into the bin. Place a newspaper at the bottom of the bin. Lay the bin on its side and wash out with hot water and disinfectant
Does my bin have a microchip? What will you use this information for?
For a number of reasons: - So we can track lost bins, as each has a serial number relating to the property it was delivered to - In the future we will be able to deal with customer enquiries better by having live information fed from the trucks to the call centre, for instance why a bin hasn't been collected or where the crews are on the rounds - No personal data is held on the chips, only address data.
How can I recycle drinks cartons (Tetra-paks)?
Drinks cartons can be recycled in your blue bin or box and at various Brink Bank sites around the city

Links relevant to this FAQ
Recycling bring banks
Must I have a wheelie bin, as I produce very little waste?
Residents are provided with a wheelie bin unless their property is unsuitable. We provide smaller bins or sacks for those households who cannot accommodate a standard 240L bin. If you feel a bin is unsuitable for your property, we can check your property against our own streets survey information and get in touch with you again to talk through your situation. We try to be as flexible as possible, but residents are expected to use a wheelie bin unless there are circumstances that make this difficult or unsuitable.
How can I get rid of maggots?
If you do find maggots in your wheelie bin, most of them will go when your bin is emptied. You can use a fly spray in your bin, but we also advise you to wash your bin out once it has been emptied. If you do not want to do this yourself, there are professional bin cleaners who offer this service (the Council does not provide a bin cleaning service). Maggots develop from fly eggs which are sometimes laid when food is left out in the house. Please keep all food covered or refrigerated. Food waste should be double-wrapped before placing in the bin.

Housing

I have been having headaches and feel drowsy. I am worried this could be caused by my gas appliance, which may be giving off carbon monoxide. What do I do?
A homeowner or someone in non-council accommodation should contact the national gas emergency service on 0800 111 999. Council tenants should contact Oxford City Homes on 0800 227676.
Can the Council recommend a builder?
No, but there are professional bodies that ensure standards of excellence. Organisations such as the Federation of Master Builders operate schemes for builders to join. The Council does not recommend traders. In every instance the decision must rest with the customer.
Can the Council recommend someone to undertake general home improvement?
The Council does not recommend traders. In every instance the decision must rest with the customer.
If I buy a former council flat, now a leasehold property, how can I be sure I don't end up paying the outgoing leaseholders charges?
Your solicitor should ensure that provision is made for any potential costs which may arise once the Actual Service Charges are calculated in September. Please note that although all Estimated Service Charges might be paid up-to-date by the outgoing owner, there might still be potential costs that relate to that period if there is a difference between the Estimated Service Charges and the Actual Service Charges. If your solicitor has not made any provisions you will be liable for these additional costs.
I own a property and want to rent it to the Council or to a tenant nominated by the Council.
This is not a service we offer.
Can I put up a satellite dish?
Contact our Planning team
What is the discount of Council Tax for my second home?
Since 1 April 2004 the Council has chosen to reduce the maximum discount for second homes down from 50% to 10%. This decision was ratified after a vote from the members of this Council following a change in Government legislation.

Housing > Council housing

Will the Council help with the cost of an improvement to my council house?
No. As a Landlord we have a duty to make sure all of our properties meet the Government's Decent Home Standards. If you wish to make your own improvements you will need to fund them yourself. You must put your proposal of works and any plans to our surveyors. Contact Oxford City Homes on 0800 227676 for further details.
I am a Council Tenant and I want to make an improvement to the property I live in. Do I need the Council's permission?
Yes you do. You can apply for Landlord's permission by writing to your Estate Manager at your Local Housing Office, outlining what improvement you wish to make. A Surveyor may need to visit to inspect before any work is carried out.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Council housing estate management
What do I do if I'm a Council tenant and I am being harassed by my neighbour or someone who lives nearby?
The Tenancy Agreements of all our Oxford City Council tenants state quite clearly that tenants and their visitors must not cause nuisance to neighbours.

Talk to your neighbour: When people live close together, they often do not realise they are disturbing others. If you get disturbed, the first step to take is to explain politely to the people involved that they are causing you a problem. You may consider using an independent mediator.

Talk to us: If the problem persists, contact your Local Housing Office. We will need a record of the problem so you should keep a diary of events. We will treat all complaints seriously, and all information given to us will be treated as confidential. In cases of extreme and continuous noise or pollution, the Council's Environmental Health Section can take action.

Mediation: Many neighbour problems can be sorted out by talking through the different views and coming to an agreement. However, it can be difficult to do this without the situation deteriorating into a dispute. You can get help by going to Mediation Oxfordshire. This organisation provides independent mediators who discuss the issues with all parties in a professional, calm way, and help them come to an agreement about the issue. They are trained to deal with a variety of situations and will be understanding whilst remaining absolutely impartial. The service is free.
I'm a Council tenant and urgently need a repair done. What do I do?
Use the relevant link below for contact details. You will need to give as much information as possible on: the item to be repaired; location; access arrangements etc. The details you give us will be recorded. We will assess how soon we can carry out the repair and offer an appointment. We will place a repair order immediately or arrange for a surveyor to look at what needs to be done. You will receive a written confirmation of your repair through the post within three working days. Further details on the Council's repair service are available in the Tenants' Repair Book, your Tenancy Agreement and Tenants' Handbook.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Repairs service
I am physically unable to manage my garden any more. I have no family locally and cannot afford to pay a gardener. Can you help?
If you are a Council Tenant you may be accepted onto the Garden Scheme. For more information ring our Contact Centre on 0800 227676 and ask for an application form.
Where can I, as a Council Tenant, get decorating vouchers for the property I live in?
The Council does not run a decoration voucher scheme. The last scheme ended in March 2003 and there are no current plans to re-introduce it. You may be eligible for Repairs Exemption Status which includes decoration. Please see our Repairs Exemption page for full details.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Council housing repairs exemptions
What is a lease?
A lease is a contract between the leaseholder and the landlord giving conditional ownership for a fixed period of time. The lease sets out the contractual obligations of the two parties: what the leaseholder has contracted to do, and what the landlord is bound to do. The leaseholder's obligations will include payment of the ground rent and contribution to the costs of maintaining and managing the building. The landlord will usually be required to manage and maintain the structure, exterior and common areas of the property, to collect contributions from all the leaseholders and keep the accounts.
What do I have to do as leaseholder?
Your lease explains your rights and obligations. For example, as a leaseholder you have to pay service charges and keep your home clean and in good repair. It also means that you cannot make alterations to the building without the Councils consent, or use the building for business purposes. Nor must you or any members of your household cause a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours.
What responsibilities does the Council have to the leaseholder?
The Council is responsible for the structure of the building and the communal areas. For example, the Council will have to:- maintain and repair the structure and exterior of the building and all communal areas, including decorations; consult with leaseholders over certain repairs and insure the building.
What does a Service Charge cover?
Some examples of these services are: cleaning and caretaking of communal areas, cleaning, repairs and maintenance of communal windows, and lift maintenance. The Council provides these services to improve the safety, security and appearance of its homes. This mainly applies to blocks of flats and surrounding areas. All charges are divided equally between tenants and leaseholders.
How much do I pay towards the Service Charges in my block/ estate?
Leaseholders are charged quarterly (in advance) for their Service Charges. These will be unique to each block, however, this is just an estimated amount. The actual charges are calculated in August/September for the previous financial year. When the calculations are worked out, a revised bill is sent to you and your Service Charge account is then adjusted accordingly. Tenant's Service Charges are broken down on their Rent Account and are charged weekly, based on bills from the previous financial year.
What happens if I cannot afford the Service Charge?
If anyone is unable to pay the actual charge in full an arrangement may be made subject to information provided detailing all income and expenditure, however the estimated charge must be paid upon demand, in line with the lease agreement.
What if I have a query or disagree with the service charge?
Any queries concerning the level of service provided should be made in writing and sent to the Service Charges Officer, Rents Team, Oxford City Council. Use the relevant link for the postal address.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Council housing
What are Major repairs and improvements?
Major Repairs and improvements to your Council tenancy include installation or replacement of central heating, electrical re-wiring, replacement kitchens and/or bathrooms and re-roofing. If the whole of a property was to be refurbished, then it may be that the Council would arrange for you to live in another tenancy whilst the work is taking place.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Repairs service
Can I sub-let my Council property?
No, that would be a breach of tenancy agreement, we would seek legal proceedings to take the property back. However a tenant may sublet part of their property with written consent from us.
I owe rent on my Council home, who can help?
We understand that sometimes people find it difficult to keep up with rent payments when they are living on a limited budget, for example, because they are ill, or lose their job, or have personal problems. The important thing is to make contact with the Rent Team on (01865) 335777, or email rentsteam@oxford.gov.uk to get advice before the debt gets too large for you to deal with. If you are able to afford to pay off all your rent arrears in one go, you should do so as this will reduce the likelihood of being taken to Court. In some circumstances we will make an agreement with you for you to make payments by instalment to clear what you owe over a period of time. We can look at whether you might be entitled to some help with paying your rent if you are entitled to Housing and Council Tax Benefit. We are also able to help you to prioritise your out-goings so that the most important bills are paid first, to help you keep the roof over your head.
I can't afford to pay my Council rent, what should I do?
If you are receiving State Benefits, a Customer Services Officer or member of the Rent Team can check if you may be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. An assessment of your entitlement, based on the income of everyone in your household can help you to maximise your income. You can then put any extra money towards clearing your rent arrears, which will help keep the roof over your head. In certain circumstances, the Rent Team can agree for you to pay off your rent arrears in regular instalments over a period of time, which will prevent your situation getting any worse. If you need expert advice to help with prioritising your bills and maximising your benefits, we can provide you with details of the Citizens Advice Bureau or an Advice Centre near where you live. You can contact one of the Agencies direct for an appointment.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Council housing rent payment
How can I pay off my Council rent arrears?
If you fall behind with your rent or miss a payment, the Rent Team will contact you by letter, telephone call or text. You will be asked to pay any arrears owed immediately. If you can not afford to pay the arrears in one go, you should contact the Rent Team immediately on 0800 227676 and your Rent Advisor will discuss your income and expenditure with you and make an Acceptable Repayment Contract for you to repay what is owed, regularly, over a set period of time. If you do not make an agreement or break any agreement made, we will start Court action to repossess your home. We also offer Money Management workshops where you can learn how to budget and other money saving tips. For more information, please contact the Involvement Team on 01865 335454. See the links below to find out more. See our Paying Your Rent page or pay online by visiting our Pay It page.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Council housing rent payment
Pay it online
What will happen to me if I don't pay off my Council rent arrears?
Your Tenancy Agreement states you must pay your rent in advance. If you fail to keep to the agreement you reached with us, or do not make any payments to pay off all your rent arrears, we will start recovery action against you. We will serve a Notice Seeking Possession (or a Notice of Possession Proceedings if you have an Introductory Tenancy) on you, particularly if you owe us more than four weeks of rent. This is the first stage in the legal process that could result in you losing your home.
I have paid too much Council rent, what should I do?
If your rent account is in credit by more than six weeks' rent payment, you can stop paying your rent until the credit has gone. Before you stop making payments, please contact the Rent Team to confirm that this is the best course of action. If you pay by Direct Debit, we can reduce your future payments accordingly. However, if it would be difficult for you to stop making payments - because your rent is paid for you in full by Housing Benefit payments, for example - we can arrange to send you a refund of the money instead.
Where can I go for independent debt advice?
There are many independent advice centres in and around Oxford that can provide you with free advice on how to prioritise your debts and maximise your income by accessing the different Government Benefits available. For contact details, please visit our Advice Centres page. If you are a Council tenant, we can offer you a friendly, confidential face-to-face appointment with your rent officer to discuss your rent. Please call our Rent Team on 0800 227676 for further details. Please note that non-payment of rent due, could result in you losing your Council home.

Leisure > Leisure Centres and Swimming Pools

Where can I play Tennis/Basketball and what are the charges for the sports facilities in Parks?
Basketball is available on Street Sports sites: Holloway, Sunnymead, Cowley Marsh, Botley, Northway, Friars Hill, Rose Hill recreation ground, Cutteslowe Park. Tennis is available at: Alexandra Courts, Cutteslowe Park, Bury Knowle Park, Florence Park, Hinksey Park, Botley Park Banbury Road North. The Street Sports site are free facilities.
Where are the pools located in the area and what time do they open/close?
Use the link below for more about Leisure Centres in Oxford.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Leisure centres and swimming pools
How do I join a gym?
Gym facilities are available at Ferry Leisure Centre, Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, Barton Leisure Centre and Temple Cowley Pools. To use any of our gyms you will need to undertake an induction. These last approximately 1 hour and our fully qualified staff will do a basic health check and show you how to use all the equipment. Personal programmes are also available.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Leisure centres and swimming pools

Leisure > Parks and open spaces

Is there a lost property section in Parks?
No, all lost property is handed into the police station.
Can you give me information about allotments?
Use the relevant link below

Links relevant to this FAQ
Allotments
How do I go about getting an allotment plot at a particular site?
Deal direct with the appropriate allotment association.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Allotments
What time do the Parks close?
Only Florence Park is locked, and the times vary throughout the year.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Parks

Tax and Benefits

I can't afford to pay my Council Tax bill, can I get a reduction?
If you cannot afford to pay your Council Tax bill, then you should apply for Council Tax Benefit. This is a means-tested benefit that can reduce the total amount of your bill. If you want an application pack for Council Tax Benefit, please email benefits@oxford.gov.uk providing your full name, address and Council Tax reference number.

Tax and Benefits > Council Tax

I have been refused credit. How can I find out if I am on a credit blacklist?
A trader can refuse to supply credit to anyone, and does not have to give a reason why - unless he/she has used a Credit Reference Agency. The creditor has a legal responsibility to give the details of the agency used.
Do I have to be on the Electoral Register to get Credit?
The Electoral Register is used extensively by Credit Companies to check where a person is living. In many cases if you are not on the electoral register you will be refused credit.
Can I pay my Council Tax bill in full?
Yes, please visit our Council Tax pages for more information on how to pay,
I paid by Direct Debit last year. Do I need to tell my bank anything?
No, please check the front of your bill where your instalments are listed with the phrase "Information only, your instalments will be collected by Direct Debit".
Can I change the date of my Direct Debit?
Yes you can, simply email counciltax@oxford.gov.uk providing your Council Tax reference number (the one that starts with a six), and state the new date you would like your Direct Debit to be paid. This can be either the 1, 5, 15 or 25 of each month.
I cancelled my Direct Debit. Can I reinstate it?
Your Direct Debit cannot be reinstated by the Council. Please contact your bank and request that the original instruction be reinstated. When we receive notification from your bank that it has been reinstated, then we will write to you with details of your new instalment plan.
I can't afford to pay my Council Tax bill, can I get a reduction?
If you cannot afford to pay your Council Tax bill, then you should apply for Council Tax Benefit. This is a means-tested benefit that can reduce the total amount of your bill. If you want an application pack for Council Tax Benefit, please email benefits@oxford.gov.uk providing your full name, address and Council Tax reference number.
Can I pay over 12 months?
No, Council Tax is due by ten monthly instalments payable on the first day of each month across the first ten months of the financial year (April to January). If you wish to vary the monthly collection date then you will need to pay by Direct Debit.
Can I pay by weekly or fortnightly arrangements?
The Council can not offer weekly or fortnightly payment plans. However you can make more frequent payments, as long as you have paid the full amount of the monthly instalment by each due date.
I have recently notified you of a change in my circumstances. Why is this not reflected on the bill?
The information that goes on your bill is taken from our computer system some time before the bills are actually printed. This means that if you have recently advised us of any changes, they won't show on your annual bill. You will shortly receive a new bill showing these changes.
My bill still shows an amount owing from last year but I have paid this recently. Why is this?
If you have made a payment to us in the period leading up to the date of your bill this payment will not be shown. If you want confirmation that we have received the payment please email us at counciltax@oxford.gov.uk providing your Council Tax account number (this is the one that starts with a six), and the method, amount and date of payment.
How can I tell if I qualify for a discount or exemption?
Visit our Council Tax pages using the link below.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Council Tax
How is Oxford City's share of the Council Tax calculated?
If you have a query about the calculation of our charge please contact us on 01865 249811.
I have received sub-standard service from a particular Council department. Can I withhold part of my Council Tax because of this?
No, you must pay the full amount you have been billed. Council Tax is a contribution to all the services provided by your Local Authorities, not a charge just for the services you use or receive. If you do have a complaint, please direct it to the department concerned and we will try and resolve the problem.

Planning and building control

How do I find out who owns a piece of land?
If you think it is owned by Oxford City Council, then see our Local Land search pages. If the land is not owned by the Council, you will need to contact Land Registry.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Local authority land search
Land Registry
Can I purchase a site location plan for my house?
Only if you are making a planning or building control application. There is a charge for a set. It is a breach of copyright to issue them for any other reason.
How do personal searches differ from searches submitted to the Council on Forms LLC1 and CON29?
The main differences are: An Official Certificate of Search (Form LLC1) is not signed and issued by the Council in respect of information obtained for a personal search. Personal searches consist of information obtained from the Local Land Charges Register and other public registers. It is not possible to obtain replies to all of the questions on the forms entitled CON29 (Part I and II) (2002 Edition) by only viewing public registers.
Can the Council recommend a builder?
No, but there are professional bodies that ensure standards of excellence. Organisations such as the Federation of Master Builders operate schemes for builders to join. The Council does not recommend traders. In every instance the decision must rest with the customer.
Does the council sell land?
The Council does not specifically sell land for self-build projects. The majority of residential sites are sold to Housing Associations for Social Housing Development, whilst those sites not sold to that sector are sold on the open market.
Does Oxford City Council have records relating to ownership of land?
The Council does not have records relating to ownership of private property or land and therefore cannot offer advice concerning boundaries. This information may be obtained by reference to title deeds or alternatively HM Land Registry may be able to assist.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Land Registry
What electrical work requires notification to the local authority?
Contact our building control department for advice.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Building Control
Do I need permission to put solar panels on my roof?
Yes. Discuss the proposal with our Building Control department.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Building Control
Is Building Regulation approval required for the installation of solar panels on the roof of existing buildings and what parts of the Building Regulations apply?
Each installation would be considered on it's own merits, but strict interpretation would require approval under the Building Regulations: Part A - to assess the loadings imposed (lift as well as dead load) Part C - adequate provision for entry of pipes through the roof covering. Part P - if any electrical pump is involved.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Building Control
Who do I contact if have a concern over a dangerous structure?
Building Control Officers have powers to deal with unsafe structures. If it is a building site, the Health and Safety Executive enforce health and safety legislation.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Building Control
What can I do if my neighbour builds over my boundary?
Unfortunately the council has no legal powers to help, as this is a civil matter between you and your neighbour. We would suggest that you discuss the matter with your neighbour first and should you be unable to resolve the problem, you should then seek legal advice from a solicitor. Your attention is also brought to the Party Wall Act 1996. A guidance pamphlet on the operation and requirements of the Party Wall Act is available from the Building Control Service.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Building Control

Transport and Parking

Can road works be carried out at night?
It is difficult to find an optimum time for carrying out road works without either causing noise disturbance or traffic congestion. A compromise is usually found, which may involve evening or night works. Normally the noisier work, such as concrete breaking would be carried out during the day or evening, with quieter work, such as resurfacing works being carried out at night.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Noise pollution

Transport and Parking > Parking

How do I get a residents parking permit?
The residents parking permit scheme is run by Oxfordshire County Council. Visit the page below for more information.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Residents' parking permits
Can I have visitors parking permit for my property?
The visitors parking permit scheme is run by Oxfordshire County Council. Visit the page below for more information.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Residents' parking permits
How do I pay my parking fine?
Payment details are given on the back of the penalty notice. If your parking ticket was issued by Oxford City Council, visit our Payments page to pay online using a credit or debit card. Payment can also be made using a credit or debit card by telephoning the 24 hour automated line on 01865 252609 or you can send us a cheque in the post. If your parking ticket was issued by Oxfordshire County Council, visit the Parking Tickets page of their website for full details on how to pay.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Parking fines
How do I use the Park & Ride in Oxford?
Parking charges vary at Park and Ride sites in Oxford. Visit our Park and Ride page for full details. A return bus ticket should be purchased from the bus driver. Regular users can buy season tickets, speak to the driver or contact the Oxford Bus Company for further details.

Links relevant to this FAQ
Park and Ride

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