Draft Waterways Public Spaces Protection Order for Consultation

Introduction

At the Council meeting on 25 July 2016, Councillor Dee Sinclair, Board Member for Community Safety, announced a further six month extension to the work on a draft Waterways PSPO for consultation in order to fully explore solutions and opportunities to issues raised during Phase 1 of the consultation.  That process has now finished and we will not be moving to Phase 2.

The consultation has involved meetings with boat owners, riparian landowners, community organisations and statutory bodies to talk through the proposals, and gain knowledge about life on the waterways and the experiences of anti-social behaviour.  We received more than 30 responses and met with many of you.  Councillors visited the waterways, hosted by the Environment Agency, to gain some first-hand knowledge of the issues facing this important Oxford feature.

A report will be presented to the City Council’s Executive Board in the Spring recommending that the draft Order should not go forward in its current form.  There is not the evidence to support the current Draft PSPO for the Waterways, both in terms of the extensive area covered and its suggested prohibitions.  The nature of the problems differs across locations and requires bespoke solutions, many of which are already available through existing legislation.  However, there may be a case for a Public Spaces Protection Order in a particular location to address its particular issues as set out below. 

The report will also recommend that a detailed review is undertaken of the ways in which the city’s waterways are being used and how the opportunities which they present could be developed.  This would include a view of increasing the number of temporary and permanent mooring spots, improving services for boaters and further promotion of the city as a tourist destination.

The consultation confirmed to us that we need to work with partners to improve public safety and address anti-social behaviour in four specific areas:

  • Castle Mill Stream
  • Aristotle Lane
  • Aston’s Eyot 
  • The south bank of the River Thames between Folly Bridge and the southern Ring Road

Councillor Dee Sinclair, Executive Board Member for Community Safety, said: “We knew there were public safety concerns and anti-social behaviour taking place across Oxford’s waterways, but before the engagement we did not have detailed knowledge of where this was taking place or the best way to tackle it.

“It has been hugely insightful and valuable to have detailed conversations with stakeholders, particularly those from the boating community, to get their views and experiences. We have listened to these insights and ideas, and we have made changes to our proposals to reflect them.

"This is how the City Council likes to work: we are told about a problem, we talk to those affected and, together, we find the right approach to address the situation. We would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation process.”

Background

On 17 March 2016, Oxford City Council’s City Executive Board resolved to consult on a draft Waterways Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for the waterways of Oxford. The purpose of an Order is to restrict behaviours in an area that are considered detrimental to the quality of life of people within the area.

The draft PSPO seeks to improve the overall environment for the boating community, residents and all visitors and users of the river and riverbanks. The proposal is in response to complaints of nuisance behaviour affecting people who live on, near to or use the waterways and riverbanks.

Before a PSPO can be introduced, we must undertake a consultation process with relevant land owners, the public, the police and other partners. The draft Waterways PSPO consultation process has been split into two phases:

  • Phase 1: Engagement with key stakeholders including representatives of boat dwellers, owners of land adjacent to the water (riparian owners) and groups that live near or use the waterways.
  • Phase 2: Gathering the views of the wider public through the use of an on-line questionnaire on a draft PSPO that will be reviewed by the Board Member for Community Safety.

Phase 1 of the consultation process began on 25 May 2016. The length of the consultation period is dependent upon the outcomes of Phase 1.

Our Constitution requires the Council to publish in its Forward Plan future reports to be considered by the City Executive Board. A follow-up report on the Waterways PSPO is planned for the September 2016 meeting; this will be dependent upon the outcome of the consultation.

Minutes from the three UMBEG (Unlawfully Moored Boats Enforcement Group) meetings that took place in 2015 are available on our Draft PSPO for consultation, maps and other documents page