Category Archives: Uncategorized

Poor service from Biffa

Here is my letter today to the officer managing the waste and recycling, and to the Cabinet Member responsible for the service, Cllr Charlotte Dickson. 

Dear (officer),

Sadly this waste and recycling service from Biffa has become reliable. Reliably bad. 
Many roads were missed today in Elms Rise Botley. My road is Sycamore Road OX2 9EJ. Residents from Cedar Road OX2 9E have contacted me to complain as well 

Consider this another complaint. 
Something like 4 of the last 5 weeks we’ve had a missed service. There has never, in my experience, been a textiles pick up at all.
Please can you tell me the financial penalties to the contractor for such poor service week after week? 

We are annoyed. It’s an expensive contract. 



Line your food caddy in plastic!

Residents in Vale of White Horse can now use plastic bags to line their food waste bins and caddies.
Food waste is collected every week and taken to Agrivert’s anaerobic digestion plant near Wallingford to be recycled into gas for electricity and fertiliser for local farmland.
The processing plant is now able to accept thin plastic bags, such as carrier bags, bread bags, paper wrappings, or normal pedal bin liners. Residents can also continue to use compostable bags or newspapers to line their caddies and bins, or put food straight in without any liner.

Any bags used as liners will be removed at the processing plant and sent to an Energy Recovery Facility to be turned into energy.

Cllr Tony Harbour, Cabinet Member for Waste at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We know that compostable bags can be expensive and easily tear, so it’s great news that the processing plant can now take plastic bags.

Cllr Charlotte Dickson, Cabinet Member for Waste, said: “We want to make recycling as easy as possible for our residents, so we very much welcome the extra option of using plastic bags as caddy liners.

“We are one of the top recyclers in the country, but we still throw away a significant amount of food waste, with a recent review showing that around 30 per cent of the waste put out in the grey rubbish bins was food waste that could have been recycled. We would like to encourage everyone to use their food waste bins and thank all those that already do – it makes a real difference.”

All cooked and uncooked food can be put into food waste bins. 

Residents are advised that plastic retail packaging, or anything other than food waste, should not be put in. For example, bacon should be removed from its plastic packet and fruit taken out of punnets.

During 2016/17, 10,024 tonnes of food waste was collected and sent for recycling in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse.

For further information about food waste recycling and other household waste and recycling collections, see the councils’ websites: or call 03000 610610.

Latest on West Way – 9 July 2017

Last week I met with Mace and Savills, and now I’ve also had their written response to the concerns I expressed in my reasons for calling in the current Mace planning application. I’m studying that this weekend. I’ve printed off concerns that residents have emailed me, and am taking another close look at everything I’ve received. 

Many of the concerns I raised have been resolved. The Westminster Way pavements won’t be closing, for example, so bus stops there remain unaffected and the walking routes to Botley Primary school remain available. 

Some issues are yet to be resolved, if they even can be. For example, a left in, left out, anti-clockwise route for construction vehicles is not in accordance with the Botley SPD, but is the safest way to manage access for large lorries. In this case at least, the Botley SPD is wrong (shock, shock). I have a meeting on Monday with the to discuss remaining concerns. 

Here’s some news that may help to ease the anxiety felt at the prospectI would cancel my call-in (which I will do when or if all the issues are satisfactorily addressed): Mace will be submitting amendments soon, which will require further consultation. So I won’t be cancelling call-in just yet. 

There are three ways residents can help in this current planning phase, son if you can bring your expertise to the table, please get in touch:

1. There is a unit for this temporary configuration that is available to be used as a small ground floor cafe; if a cafe comes forward, it would be welcome. Is this something perhaps Assn of Botley Communities could make happen for everyone? Or someone else? It would benefit us all. 

2. Mace have offered to meet with local reps of cycling groups to talk about safe access and parking in this temporary set-up. They’ve tried to make things workable and safe. Who will help with that? (I’m not a cyclist, so my conversations about it are strictly well-meaning and amateurish.)

3. Mace have offered to meet with local people who are particularly concerned about the trip rates data and the projected traffic and parking in the temporary set-up. Who will meet them with me?

So that’s where we are currently. Any questions or comments please do get in touch.

Local roadworks

Notification from Highways England.

A34 Abingdon, Oxfordshire: resurfacing
Work to improve road user’s journeys along the A34 southbound continues this week. The A34 southbound carriageway will be closed from the Hinksey Hill junction to the Milton Interchange overnight, between 10pm and 6am, from Thursday 6 July for 3 nights (Monday to Friday only). A clearly signed diversion will be in place via the Botley Interchange, A420, A338 and A417.

A34 Marcham to Hinksey Hill, Oxfordshire: barrier repairs
Work to improve safety by carrying out repairs to the barrier finishes this week. The northbound carriageway between Marcham interchange and Hinksey Hill will be closed overnight, between 10pm and 6am, until Friday 7 July. A clearly signed diversion route will be in place via Colwell Drive, Dunmore Road and Oxford Road to the A34 Hinksey Hill junction.

A34 Oxford, Oxfordshire: street lighting
Work to improve safety by maintaining the street lighting around the A44 Peartree Interchange takes place this week. Lane closures will be in place on the roundabout, and the north and southbound entry slip roads will be closed overnight, between 10pm and 6am, on Wednesday 5 July. Clearly signed diversions will be in place via the adjacent junctions.

Info about Biffa Today

Councillors had this message from officers today:

We have had a large number of waste collection vehicle breakdowns in both districts today, which means Biffa’s crews are behind on their collections.

Our advice to residents is to leave their bins out tomorrow if we haven’t emptied them today. If any collections are disrupted tomorrow or later in the week due to these breakdowns, our advice will be for residents to leave their bins out the following day. 

Biffa are due to get a brand new fleet of vehicles later in the year, which will mean significantly fewer issues related to vehicle breakdowns.

Missed bin pickup

Last week Biffa didn’t pick up textiles I’d put out for recycling. 

This week they missed my road for grey bins and food bins. 

I contacted them and actually complained. So here they are on a Saturday, picking up two days late. 

Unlike Theresa May, I think a bad deal is better than no deal. But the best thing is a good deal. 

To change the course of our country

Tomorrow we expect Parliament to overrule the Fixed Parliament Act and call an early general election for 8 June. Mrs May’s speech today was breathtakingly self-centred, showing how much she values her own status and her own party over our country. 

Do you trust anything she says?

I’m committed to doing what I can to help turn out the Tory Government. 

I’ll actively support the Liberal Democrats, the party that supports Remain, the NHS, our schools, and improving our transport infrastucture. I support freedom of movement in Europe and recognise the real contributions of immigrants.  We oppose the snoopers charter, the rape clause for child benefits, the cuts to our most vulnerable disabled residents. We oppose the policy for more grammar schools, which leaves more children behind. The hurtful, intolerant, inhumane polices show us the Tory mind at work. 

So I’ll be rearranging my commitments for the next 7 weeks. If it’s not urgent, I’ll take it on after the GE. 

It’s a Brexit election! Game on. 

Children’s Centres Grants speech to council

On 15 Feb here’s what I said about the Children’s Centre grants amendment motion:

I think we all agree the Children’s Centres provide vital community resource for early intervention for children under 5 and their families. It’s the main programme I’m aware of that improves children’s social mobility and therefore their life chances.

I heard this Government tout grammar schools as a way to give every child a chance at achieving their potential. But studies show unequivocally that children’s life outcomes are largely determined by the time they are 5 years old. Their life achievements are more predicted by the demographics of their families than any other thing. So it makes sense that programmes designed for early intervention have the best chance for success.

I’ve heard the argument that children’s centres are not district business, they are county. Clearly  county can’t afford to support the children’s centres any longer. Towns and parishes are doing what they can to help their local children’s centres, because it’s the right thing to do. We aren’t proposing taking on the management of children’s centres; they are actively working toward managing themselves. We propose a grants pot to help those organisations through their first year.

I’ve heard the argument that it’s not a statutory responsibility. We do lots of things we aren’t required to do. Did you know we have no statutory responsibility to supply leisure centres? But we spend millions on them.

Children’s Centres are exactly the sort of not-for-profit organisation our grants schemes are intended to support. Once we have transformed our local government into a unitary authority, this sort of service provision will be very much in our remit. In the meantime, we are able to help, and we should.

Scrutiny -leisure and CIL

Last night at Scrutiny we looked closely at three Leisure reports that serve as part of the evidence underpinning the emerging Local Plan 2031 Part 2. 

Playing pitches (both grass and arificial grass), community halls and parks and green open spaces, children’s playgrounds, allotments will all be safe. They can only be replaced, not lost. 

Many towns and villages have facilities in need of refurbishment and replacement, and these reports suggested priorities. Many settlements are underprovided with some facilities. Again, a recommended improvements re prioritised. 

Once accepted, these reports become background to policy decisions. 

This was a large body of work taking years to produce. It will underpin planning policies and support planning application decisions for years to come. 

We also reviewed the draft CIL (community infrastructure levy) charging schedule. A lot of attention has gone into balancing the need for a schedule that’s viable for developers, but that still provides enough money to build needed infrastructure to support the levels of growth to which Vale has committed. 

I was heartened at the good quality of these studies and reports.