Bicester Town Council has raised the polish flag to commemorate the Poland Independence Day 2019. Linking our twin town Czernichow.
Pupils (aged between 8 and 13 years old) and teachers from as far afield as Greece and Lithuania stayed with youngsters at Glory Farm Primary School in Bicester last week as part of a European Union funded initiative that aims to help people learn about different countries and cultures. Glory Farm Primary School has been fortunate to be able to be involved in the EU funded Erasmus Project since September 2018. Erasmus is an EU organization that funds different types of Educational projects aimed at bringing schools together so that children can work with and learn about other children from differing countries and cultures in the EU. There are also opportunities for teachers to develop their skills through job shadowing visits and sharing good teaching practices.
The Project is called Drop of Water – A Reflection of Cultures. During the project, the children in the six partner schools engage in work about water, looking at how we get our supply, the science of water, the conservation of water and how the need for water has influenced our societies.
The EU’s Erasmus + scheme has allowed teachers and pupils in Year 6 from the school on Hendon Place to visit countries including Poland, Sicily and Lithuania with Spain and Greece planned for later in the school year. At the meetings, they present and share the work that has been done in their own schools as well as engaging in activities to further their knowledge and skills to take home with them. By the end of the project they will not only have learnt about water but will have learnt film making skills and contributed to a final film all about what they have learnt and what they think the future holds for this vital resource.
As well as all their hard work, the children also learn about their hosts. They stay with local families who have children in Year 5 or 6 at Glory Farm Primary School or Year 7 at The Cooper School and take part in all their family activities. They get to try new foods and discover what daily life is like in their host country. A lot of fun activities are also arranged for them and they learn to cooperate and communicate with the other children while they take part in them – despite a few language barriers.
On Sunday 13th October, the five partner schools arrived in Bicester to stay with host families for the week. They have been particularly impressed with the school itself and the visiting teachers spent a lot of time in classes collecting ideas for when they go home. Glory Farm Primary School entertained its visitors with a range of songs and dances that the children performed. The whole school also sang the song Drop in the Ocean which links to the Erasmus theme of Water with lyrics that demonstrate that we are all a part of the ever changing world and working together makes the world a better place. One of the visiting Polish teachers commented that they didn’t clap at the end as they had found the song so ‘moving and calm’ and felt that it was inappropriate to break the spell.
As well as spending time in the school on Hendon Place, they have had the opportunity to visit places in the local area which have a cultural connection with water over the years.
The Erasmus trip to Oxford started with a guided tour around the city, looking at the colleges, historical places and monuments. The group were fascinated to find out that one of the library buildings houses a copy of every book ever published in the UK. After lunch, the visitors went to different places – some to the top of Carfax Tower to appreciate the views over the city, others to the Ashmolean Museum, to the river, the Covered Market and Christchurch Cathedral. They were amazed by the sheer number of beautiful buildings and places they had seen in television shows such as Inspector Morse (quite popular in Europe apparently!) And of course, the places featured in Harry Potter films.
On Thursday, the visitors arrived to a very quiet but watery Stratford-Upon Avon. The river had burst its banks, with the water almost over-flowing onto the pavement. The children from Glory Farm Primary School and visiting countries spent time in William Shakespeare’s House finding out lots of interesting facts about him and his family. The visitors took plenty of photos of the river, swans and the beautiful Tudor buildings in the town centre.
After the end of a very busy day, the visiting countries along with their host families, visited Garth House and met Jason Slaymaker, Bicester Town Mayor, to learn all about his role in the town. Jason is a former pupil of Glory Farm Primary School, so it was especially poignant. Gifts were exchanged by all the visiting countries with the Mayor as well as Jason reciprocating.
Banbury was the visit planned for Friday and they all visited The Banbury Museum. The focus was on canals as part of our culture. The children enjoyed learning about canals since the 1700’s; recreating canal art and finished the day off by enjoying a trip on a canal boat. The Erasmus + visitors commented that it had been a great day which was full of information. “The boat trip was fantastic!” the children said.
The guests from Europe as well as local students from The Cooper School had the opportunity to create a news report all about water. The children were asked to create a short script that talked about climate issues affecting the water as well as possible solutions. Led by a Glory Farm Primary School teacher, they had the opportunity to write, rehearse and perform in front of a camera inside The Media Studio at The Cooper School. Being part of the Bicester Learning Academy, Glory Farm Primary School is fortunate to be able to use the facilities that a secondary school can offer and the children benefitted from being able to use the Green Screen and all the IT equipment available to them, supported by technicians.
During their week in Bicester, they have also visited Rebound Revolution (an action-packed trampoline park in the town) and had a Halloween Disco at school as well as dancing and competing in a quiz one evening in school.
Over this last weekend, the European visiting countries left to return to their own schools. Mrs Jane MacLachlan, Headteacher of Glory Farm Primary School said that she was particularly proud of the way that the school had responded to the request for host families. She also commented that, “The feedback from the European countries has been exceptional. The whole school community will have lots of memories to treasure as well as hopes for the future. In our ever changing world, it is important that we offer a curriculum to our children that is ambitious and offers aspirations. Being a part of this EU funded project has enabled us to ensure we are constantly striving for the best for our children.”
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council announced bold plans today (18 September) to tackle congestion on all major routes into Oxford and improve public transport connections into and across some parts of the city, particularly the city’s eastern arc (this is an area outside the city centre that links parts of north Oxford, Marston, Headington and Cowley).
The two councils want to make a real improvement to journey times for commuters and quality of life for residents, including improved air quality, by reducing the number of cars travelling into and around the city. The key points of the Connecting Oxford proposal are:
- Restricting car traffic by introducing additional ‘bus gates’ (similar to the restriction on Oxford’s High Street) across the city to improve bus journey times for people travelling into and around the city, and so road space can be reallocated to improve walking and cycling routes
- New high frequency fast bus routes connecting neighboring towns and the Park & Rides to Oxford’s eastern arc, which is seeing the greatest growth in employment but is currently less well served by public transport, particularly around the ring road
- New and improved cycle and walking routes, including utilising space created by removing vehicles from the road to provide safe and attractive alternatives to driving into and around the city
- A charge for workplace parking provided by larger employers in the eastern arc, which would help fund the proposed transport improvements and create a disincentive to drive to work. Discounts for the new bus services would be available for staff of employers paying the workplace parking levy
- Improved journey times for commuters driving into and around the city as a result of less congestion
The two councils are now asking for comments and ideas from residents, commuters, businesses, transport operators and other organisations to feed into the detailed development of the proposals. The feedback will be used to develop a detailed project proposal, including a full business case that sets out the costs and benefits of the scheme.
Complementing the traffic management proposals, Oxfordshire County Council approved plans in April 2019 to roll out nine new Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) across Oxford by 2021. These will also cut traffic by reducing the opportunity for commuters to park in residential streets. The new CPZ areas will be: Hollow Way North, Cowley Marsh, Lamarsh Road, Waterways, New Marston, Sandhills, Cowley East, Cowley West and Quarry.
The proposals for further traffic restrictions and a workplace parking levy follow research undertaken in Oxford for the County Council’s Local Transport Plan, examination of measures applied in other UK cities and experience of transport planning in Oxford. It is believed they would decisively reduce congestion into and around Oxford that is causing growing problems for residents, employers and commuters.
Alternative options including the introduction of a congestion charge have not been completely ruled out, but are not considered to be as effective in reducing congestion and traffic over the long-term.
Bold measures needed to tackle growth in car journeys
More than 60% of all journeys into Oxford are presently done by car, with the trend of car-dependency likely to continue as more jobs are created by the city’s thriving local economy. Unless steps are taken to change how people travel this increased demand for travel will overburden the transport network leading to more congestion for Oxfordshire commuters.
The latest figures show that the number of journeys is on track to increase as predicted by a quarter (25%) between 2011 and 2031 unless steps are taken to reduce car-based traffic. In the first half of 2019, there were 65 days – half of all weekdays – when speeds on at least one major road into Oxford fell to under 5mph during the morning rush hour.
Poor public transport connectivity to parts of Oxford means some of the area’s major employment sites have no direct bus service or connection to a Park & Ride site. For those travelling by bus today it can mean using two or more bus services which results in long journey times. For example, travelling from Witney to the Headington area currently takes 82 minutes on a bus in the morning peak.
Severe traffic congestion is also having a negative impact on existing bus services. Oxford Bus Company has confirmed bus speeds in the centre of Oxford are 38% slower than in 2006, and so to ensure the timetable is met it has to put around one third more buses on the road. This, together with falling passenger numbers as a result of the slower journey times, has hit profitability, which is down by two-thirds. If not addressed, this unsustainable trend could see further impact on less profitable city and rural services.
The combination of traffic restrictions and the introduction of a workplace parking levy create positive incentives for commuters and residents to use other modes of transport, and for employers to reduce the incentive to provide free or subsidised parking for staff. Nottingham introduced a workplace parking levy in 2012 that continues to fund improvements to its local bus and tram network.
Reducing traffic volumes allows vehicles to move at around the speed limit, which reduces the need for dedicated bus lanes in some areas. This in turn would free up more road space for dedicated cycle routes. The bus gates similarly help improve space for cycling.
Investment in bus services along with improved walking and cycling routes is part of a positive vision of a sustainable and less congested city as set out in the Local Transport Plan (2015). The proposals will complement the already agreed plan to create a zero emission zone (ZEZ) to tackle poor air quality in Oxford’s city centre.
Cllr Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The predicted growth in journeys as new jobs are created in the city means that doing nothing is not an option. We need to take bold steps to tackle the congestion problem and improve quality of life for people who live and work in the city. The benefits will be felt by people travelling into the city from across the county and is an important project for Oxfordshire as a whole.”
Cllr Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport at Oxford City Council, said: “History shows that every twenty-five years or so Oxford needs a transformative change to its transport planning. In 1970 plans to knock down parts of Jericho and St Clements for roads and car parks were rightly abandoned; instead we introduced the UK’s first Park & Rides. In the 1990s we pedestrianised Cornmarket and put the bus gate in High Street to cut congestion in the city centre. We need another bold step to break the slow steady spiral of congestion and decline and instead create a virtuous cycle of improvement, with better public transport, safer cycling and cleaner air on our streets.”
Peter Headicar, Transport Advisor, Oxford Civic Society, said: Demand management must be a core feature in developing the Oxford Transport Strategy to bring traffic and environmental improvements to the city whilst facilitating and accommodating its economic growth. We hope that the councils will now commission the technical work necessary to provide detailed information on the impact of the proposals so that their optimum form can be identified.”
Phil Southall, Managing Director, Oxford Bus Company, said: “Congestion has a huge impact for us, delaying journeys and leading to reduced frequency. Our costs also increase because we need more buses to deliver the timetable. Reliable and flexible buses are crucial to cutting down on the number of individual cars and to help drivers with links to Park & Ride. We need a radical way of unclogging the roads and welcome potential changes.”
Scott Urban, Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel, said: “We support a new approach towards a more efficient, safe, active and sustainable low-carbon travel and a reduction in traffic, pollution and noise to create more attractive, accessible and people-friendly streets where everybody can enjoy spending time. We recognise that this requires visionary and bold measures, that may meet some initial resistance, as any change from the status quo does. But we believe that as the measures themselves are introduced public support will grow and grow. We will work vigorously to support sufficiently bold measures.”
About the new bus services
Funding from the workplace parking levy will be used to introduce new high frequency bus and Park & Ride services, connecting people living in the county towns to key employment sites in Oxford, as well as a new fast orbital route across the eastern arc.
About the traffic restrictions
New bus gates are proposed around the city centre to restrict through traffic and disincentivise vehicles driving into the central area. In addition, bus gates are also planned for the B4495 on the Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way to reduce congestion on the route of the proposed new orbital bus service. The operating times for the bus gates have not yet been determined. Buses, taxis and emergency service vehicles will not be restricted.
About the workplace parking levy
There are many more workplace parking spaces in the city compared to public parking, mainly located outside the city centre and across the eastern arc. To influence private car use, particularly associated with the journey to work – a main determinant of congestion at peak periods – a workplace parking levy is proposed.
The levy is a relatively simple and cost-efficient way to raise revenue to be invested in improved transport, as proposed in Oxford’s Local Transport Plan in 2015, and to encourage sustainable travel behaviour and mode choice.
Medium-sized and larger employers would contribute to the costs of reducing congestion and providing better alternatives that they will benefit from directly, including shorter journey times for staff coming to work. Employers within the area covered by the Workplace Parking Levy will be within a ten minute walk or less from the new high frequency bus route. It is recognised that these represent additional costs to employers, which is why organisations with fewer than 11 spaces are exempt.
Employers in the eastern arc area would be invited to take part in a design group to influence the final measures so they can help shape the proposals and maximise the benefits to them as a local employer.
The cost to employers has not been calculated and would be linked to the investment needed to provide good alternatives to driving. The Nottingham levy is £415 per workplace parking space per annum, and the councils believe that provides a reasonable indication of the levy for Oxford.
Have your say
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have launched a major engagement exercise to gather views of people affected by congestion in Oxford, including residents, employers and commuters.
More information on the Connecting Oxford proposals are available at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/connectingoxford along with a short survey on the proposals. People are welcome to submit comments as individuals or on behalf of an organisation. The deadline for submissions is 20th October 2019.
As part of the engagement activities, the councils will be meeting with employers, community groups and representatives of interests including active travel.
RESIDENTS are being urged to don their favourite superhero costume and get themselves to Garth Park for a free activity day.
The Launton Road park will open its gates at 11am on Wednesday, August 7, for the first ever Bicester Superhero Activity Day.
Sponsored by Bicester Village, there will be a host of free rides and activities for young people of all ages.
Some of the activities include zorbing, football darts, drumming workshops, inflatables, Punch and Judy, a miniature farm, face painting, live music and a children’s entertainer.
There will also be community stalls, food, ice cream, and people are urged to bring a picnic and set up on the lawn near the bandstand.
Organised by Bicester Town Council as part of its summer events programme, the new Superhero Day replaces the annual Teddy Bear’s Picnic event.
Mayor Jason Slaymaker said: “We took the Marvel films as inspiration for the event because everyone loves a superhero and we hope the theme will appeal to a wider age group.
“We felt the Teddy Bear’s Picnic had run its course. Initially it was toddlers, but actually the age range of those attending the event was much broader.
“The activity day is a really important event for the park and hopefully has something for everyone. It’s very relaxed, low cost and all about young people having fun.”
Cllr Slaymaker will be handing out spot prizes for “amazing costumes” during the day, which runs until 3pm.
During the event people will also be urged to have their say on the town council’s events programme.
Cllr Slaymaker said: “We want people’s opinion on the town council’s current events programme and how we develop the programme for 2020.
“Is there something we are missing from the current offering? We want people to think completely outside the box and come up with new ideas about what the council can run.”
Tickets are still available for the town council’s live Motown music extravaganza which takes place on Saturday, August 10, in Garth Park. Revellers can bring a picnic and there will also be a bar and food on site.
Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for children, under 5s free, and are available from the Town Council Offices, in Garth Park. Gates open at 6.30pm.
For more information view https://www.bicester.gov.uk/
SSEN Weather Alert
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is preparing for a period of unsettled weather that may cause disruption to supplies across both its north of Scotland and central southern England electricity distribution networks over the next 24 hours.
Please click on the link below to find out what to do if the power goes off.
Cycle Survey – Have your say
Cyclists from across the county are being invited to complete a survey about what they like or dislike about cycling in Oxfordshire.
The results will be used by Oxfordshire County Council to help shape Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) – new plans to radically improve Oxfordshire’s cycling network and make it attractive, comfortable and easy to use for all cyclists.
Oxfordshire county council has an ambition to enhance walking and cycling routes across the county to help people improve their health and wellbeing, whilst also reducing pollution and congestion. This is part of our work to make towns, villages and the city healthier places to live and deliver on our climate change emergency commitments.
Have your say by completing the survey: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cyclesurvey Please be aware the weblink takes you onto a page that say ‘other ways to complete your survey’. Click this button and it will take you through to the survey.