Oxford City Council is taking measures to improve the city centre using Government funding following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
The Welcome Back Fund provides councils across England a share of £56 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support the safe return to high streets and help ‘build back better’ from the pandemic. The fund forms part of the wider support government is providing to communities and businesses.
Working with partners ODS (Oxford Direct Services), the Council is using £269,900 on a range of activities to support public realm initiatives and improve the city centre, including additional cleaning to make the environment brighter and removing graffiti, chewing gum, old flyers and abandoned bikes. 30 new litter bins will be installed throughout the city centre.
Market Street to Cornmarket Street, Friars Entry, Rose Lane, Frewin's Court and the stairwells at Gloucester Green will all be given a deep clean. Chewing gum will be removed from a number of locations; Queen Street, Cornmarket, George Street, Broad Street, High Street (from Lloyds to Queens Lane), Magdalen Street and Bonn Square.
The Funding was used for a range of activities as well as cleaning. These included enabling temporary outside dining spaces, visitor promotion as the city re-opened, and development of the Draft City Centre Action Plan, consulted on recently, which will help shape the longer-term future of Oxford’s City centre following the Pandemic.
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The City Council has undertaken a range of different measures to support city centre businesses through the pandemic. I am pleased that we have been able to access this funding to invest in additional cleaning to brighten up our city centre.
“Our City Centre Action Plan will help the city centre continue to be a great place for Oxford’s residents and visitors to spend leisure time and to live and work.”
Ian Thompson, Streetscene Operational Manager, ODS, said: “ODS are really excited to be working in partnership with Oxford City Council to deliver excellent environmental cleanliness projects within the city centre to entice and welcome back visitors in 2022.
“The EU Welcome Back Fund has enabled ODS to undertake more work than resources and budgets previously allowed, including extra graffiti works, gum removal and deep cleans.
“ODS are proud to have the skills with in the workforce to not only be able to achieve this work, but have it completed in a short time scale to make improvements to the city centre.”