Published: Friday, 31 May 2024

Oxford City Council recently conducted a public consultation to gather feedback on proposed updates to the byelaws governing the city’s 130 parks and open spaces.

The consultation ran from Monday 12 February until Monday 8 April 2024. 


For feedback on the proposal to update the City Council byelaws for the Parks and Open Spaces, which have not been updated for nearly 30 years. The consultation consisted of a widely publicised, open-to-all, online questionnaire, combined with a proactive approach to a wide range of stakeholders for the Council’s green spaces.  

The total number of responses to the online survey was 523. Other comments and suggestions were provided separately from the online survey via email/letter. In addition to recording the quantifiable number of votes in support or opposition to the overall proposal and individual byelaws, all of the comments submitted on the online survey, and those provided separately, were reviewed to identify general feedback themes, concerns and suggestions.  


  • A majority (60%) of respondents voted in support for the proposed updated byelaws in general 
  • A majority, and in most cases significant majority, voted in support of each of the individual updated byelaws proposed 
  • A majority supported lifting the blanket ban on cycling in parks, but a strong desire was expressed for it to be retained for Hinksey Park (other than use of the designated cycle route), and at the Trap Grounds and Lye Valley nature areas (where there are fragile wetland boardwalks and habitats) 
  • Despite general support for the byelaw relating to potential misuse of play areas by teenagers, a number of respondents questioned the appropriateness and viability to enforce an arbitrary age, and it was suggested any clear misuse of play areas could be dealt with instead through use of a general byelaw relating to causing obstruction or annoyance to others 
  • A significant majority of respondents did not feel they would be unduly impacted by the application of the updated byelaws other than in relation to cycling in parks (reflecting consideration of both positive and negative impacts: the views of cyclists who would be negatively impacted by its retention and positively by the lifting of the ban; and the views of those who think there could be a potentially negative impact on pedestrians by lifting the ban)   
  • There was a significant majority in favour of revoking the old byelaws regarding ball games, tree climbing and wild swimming 
  • A majority supported the proposal to revoke the existing set of byelaws for Shotover Country Park and include the site under the general park byelaws 


That based on your feedback, the draft updated set of byelaws presented for consultation could provide the substantial basis for a revised proposal, but they should be reviewed and updated to take account of areas of concern, and, where appropriate, changes made in line with suggested clarifications and additions.  

The Council will now take time to further consider the proposals and recommendations. If there is a decision to progress, the updated proposals will be advertised again, and there will be another opportunity for further public comment later in the year. 

Byelaws provide a basic set of rules around the use of these public spaces to ensure people behave in ways which respect the enjoyment, wellbeing and safety of others.  They also aim to ensure the protection of habitats, wildlife and the wider environment.   


“We are grateful to everyone who took the time to share their views during this consultation. Your feedback is invaluable in helping us shape byelaws that protect our cherished parks and open spaces while ensuring they remain safe and enjoyable for all. We are committed to carefully considering all comments and will continue to engage with the community as we refine these proposals.” 

Councillor Chewe Munkonge, Cabinet Member for a Healthy Oxford 


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