A manager is to be appointed to run Oxford’s Covered Market in a bid to boost its fortunes.
It is hoped that the proposed manager, who would be in charge of the 240-year-old centre, will not only help solve the rent issues between the property owners and shopkeepers but also improve the market’s cleanliness and advertising.
Shopkeepers told The Oxford Student that they felt the new manager would potentially bring benefits.
Joy Hetherington, who both runs Oxford Aromatics and is a Director of the Covered Market Traders’ Association, said: “I think the introduction of a manager is a very good move by the council, who are finally admitting that they have to bear some responsibility.
“Nobody’s aware of the Covered Market. It was originally designed to be tucked away but we are in a changing environment and we have to deal with that.
“There are therefore three things that need to be done. First and foremost, the market needs better advertising. Then we need more efficient marketing and finally a greater level of hygiene. If a market manager is able to achieve that then I am all for it.”
The move comes after the City Council took action to help the Covered Market by appointing an independent specialist marketing consultant to create a strategy for the centre.
Gillian Senior, the owner of The Hat Box, an independent boutique hat shop, suggested some ideas for advertising: “I think the entrances need to be more attractive. The council could also string a huge banner across Cornmarket promoting our market.”
However, Gillian expressed some scepticism with the Council’s proposed move. She said: “The Council has promised us staff before and it hasn’t materialised.”
Michael Feller, who has worked in the market for 35 years and is the owner of the butchers M. Feller & Son and Daughter, said: “We have lunatics running the asylum,” he said.
“Putting a manager in charge of the Covered Market won’t make any difference.”
He went on to voice some of his other concerns with the market. The market currently employs six porters to clean the market, but he claimed: “We don’t need six porters to do a two-man job.”
“Everyone’s got a job but no one’s working. The owners want more rent yet my staff haven’t had a pay rise in three years. It gets personal – it has done with the Council and it shouldn’t.”
Last year, the Covered Market was hit by a proposal from Oxford City Council to increase rents by up to 70 per cent. It was described at the time by some as “unsustainable for the majority of tenants”.
All the shopkeepers showed concern for the future of the market. When asked if the she thought the market had a reliable future, Joy Hetherington answered: “I hope so.”
Alexandra Clayton, who works at the charity Helen and Douglas’ House, said: “We obviously all want to preserve the historic and architectural significance of this building.” Gillian Senior added: “There are very interesting shops here. The market is old and authentic and that should help us.”
Feller called the Covered Market “a gem that you don’t have elsewhere”.
“I’ve worked here for 18 hours a day, seven days a week for 35 years and it’s sad to see that go to waste. I can’t see any future for the Covered Market.”
Students campaigning for seats on Oxford City Council are in a war of words this week over the recent 38 per cent cuts to homeless services in the city.
According to a statement from the Liberal Democrats, the Labour-run City Council recently voted down an amendment which would have provided an extra £100,000 for homelessness services.
Labour claims it is maintaining current spending levels on homelessness rather than cutting “in proportion to the government budget.”
Mark Mills, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Oxford, said: “Most of the shelters get most of their funding from the Conservative-controlled County Council, which has proposed the £1.5 million cut.”
“The loss of this funding will likely mean either one of the shelters will have to close or services at each shelter will be seriously damaged.”
Jean Vila, a Biology student at Wadham and Central Oxford Liberal Democrat campaigner, said: “Oxford’s Labour councillors have shown complete hypocrisy over the cuts to support for the homeless in Oxford. Twice in one week they’ve had the chance to help the homeless and twice they’ve failed to do so.”
“We need to hold the City Council to account when they fail to live up to their rhetoric and let down some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
Aled Jones, a second-year Law student at Corpus Christi who will run for Labour against Vila in May’s council elections, said: “What the Lib Dems are saying is completely unfounded and purely an attempt to play politics with a serious issue.
“The City Council can’t send a message that it will pick up the slack when the County cuts vital services, as it also faces financial constraints imposed by this Tory/Lib Dem government.
“The Lib Dems should be directing their time and energy into opposing the Tories at the County Council, who are actually making the cuts, instead of attempts to smear Labour with baseless attacks regarding homelessness provision,” he added.
Labour councillor Ed Turner said: “The truth is the City Council grant has been reduced by 47 per cent yet we are going to maintain every penny going towards homeless services instead of cutting in proportion to the government budget. It’s the Conservative County Council that isn’t doing their bit.”
Vila and Jones will go head-to-head in the council elections on 22nd May. They are both standing for Holywell ward, which covers colleges such as Merton and Teddy Hall.
Jones, who is a former co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, has said: “It’s only fair that local students have an active voice on the local council.
“Beyond the bubble of dreaming spires, Oxford has some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country which are being particularly badly hit by this government’s policies, which is why what the City Council does matters.”
Both parties have accused one another of using these cuts as an excuse for political gain. Tony Brett, another Liberal Democrat councillor, said: “It’s more important to help the homeless than to play politics. It’s a shame Labour can’t appreciate that.”
Ed Turner hit back, saying: “We tried our very best to have cross-party cooperation on this matter. It’s incredibly frustrating that the Lib Dems cannot help but use homelessness as a political football.”
The cuts to homelessness services have been widely condemned by figures such as OUSU President Tom Rutland and VP (Charities and Communities) Dan Tomlinson. The Oxford Student reported last week that the budget had been formally approved despite extensive protests from residents and students.
Lesley Dewhurst, who co-ordinates Oxford Homeless Pathways, said: “Given that Oxford is the most expensive place in the country, this cut does feel very short sighted. In the run up to the election, it seems political backstabbing has become more important than issues such as homelessness.”
A recent study has found that record numbers of Oxford students are visiting the Accident and Emergency department.
The study, commissioned by Oxfordshire Healthwatch, found that of the 317 students interviewed, around 14% in total had visited A&E during Oxford termtime.
Men arrived at A&E more than women, with 20% of males surveyed admitting that they had been to the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department at some point.
Meanwhile, those from the hospital have said that they feel some students could have been seen by other NHS services, rather than visiting the already below-target A&E. The maximum four hour waiting time for 95% of patients in A&E (before they are admitted, discharged or transferred) has been repeatedly missed by the John Radcliffe hospital since the middle of October, with the exception of two weeks.
Andrew McLean, Male Welfare Representative at Somerville College, believes alcohol has a lot to answer for students visit A&E. “I feel hesitant to say it’s absolutely a result of drinking alone, but it definitely plays a huge part. When people put themselves in positions where they’re barely in control of their movement, and may be in danger of alcohol poisoning, A&E visits are going to rocket.”
McLean also noted the longstanding effects of this, although he recognised that this is not necessarily an Oxford-only problem: “We’ve got a culture of extreme drinking at university. There are many groups in which putting yourself at risk is viewed as part of the fun of a night out.”
A Somerville fresher, who visited A&E at the John Radcliffe earlier in Hilary, said that she did so based on professional guidance:
“Over the phone, NHS direct said that I should go to hospital straight away, owing to the potential nature of the injury [...] I wouldn’t have gone without being explicitly told to do so.”
An anonymous third-year student said: “Screw Hassan’s, the John Radcliffe A&E department is the best place to be after a night out.”
Oxfordshire Healthwatch, the official regulator for health and social care within the region and the organiser of the survey, believe that more research is needed in order to discover precisely why so many students are visiting the department.
John Radcliffe Hospital was unavailable for comment.
A police attempt to remove a dead badger from a road just north of Oxford caused one death and a number of injuries last Friday.
Police officers had received a call about a dead badger obstructing traffic on the A34 earlier that morning.
Whilst officers were removing the animal from the road, the slowed traffic led to two lorries colliding just before 3am.
The accident proved fatal for one of the lorry drivers, who was brought to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, but later died of injuries. The other driver was treated for minor injuries.
Firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after 3am and left before 5am.
Roads were closed for police investigations and wreckage clearances until after midday on Friday.
Heavy traffic continued along Woodstock Road and into the Oxford city centre throughout the day.
Thames Valley Police has referred the case to International Police Complaints Commission. IPCC deals in cases of death and serious injuries that may have been caused by a police member.
Police are in the process of appealing for witnesses to the collision and investigations are still underway.
An Oxford club has denied widely published claims that bouncers ejected two male students for kissing, claiming that new CCTV footage shows they were removed because one of them took a drink from behind the bar.
The club did not release this information to The Oxford Student until late on Saturday due to confusion with a separate incident involving another customer ten minutes earlier, causing a misunderstanding.
By this time several student media outlets had published details of the homophobia allegations.
Pete Mortimore, general manager of Wahoo, said that more detailed analysis of CCTV footage shows that “the males were asked to leave because of over intoxication and one of them attempting to self serve.”
According to the club, the footage shows “two males at the bar area wearing chequered shirts.”
“A member of the Door Team is called over to intervene as one of the males had been refused service by the Bar Supervisor and had proceeded to take a can of energy drink by leaning over the bar. The Door Supervisor approaches the males and guides them out of the venue.”
The Oxford Student is unable to view these images due to provisions of the Data Protection Act.
When asked to respond to the details of the CCTV footage, one of the students in question said: “If I’m honest I don’t remember the incident occurring.” He also confirmed he was wearing a chequered shirt at the time of the incident.
There is no suggestion that the students deliberately lied about the club’s motives for the ejection. The club did not give the students a reason for their ejection at the time, a decision Mortimore apologised for.
“The information regarding the male’s actions at the bar should have been relayed to the Door Supervisors at the front entrance,” he said.
Prior to this development last night, the incident was originally described as a homophobic move on the part of the club’s staff. Students at Wadham, where both of the ejected students attend, began suggesting a boycott of Wahoo, while some also proposed a same-sex “kiss in” at the club. Others recommended legal action.
A senior member of the college SU committee offered in a Facebook group to bring a motion to help pay potential legal costs, while a writer for another Oxford newspaper claimed the publication was looking to write a “suitably outraged” article on the topic.
One of the ejected students said prior to the club’s clarification that the incident “indicated the existence of an undercurrent of homophobia amongst a minority of security staff employed in Oxford clubs, which needs to be addressed.”
“I don’t identify as gay, but my friend does, and regardless of my own sexual orientation, we were discriminated against for same-sex kissing, when such activity by a heterosexual couple would have been ignored”.
Wahoo, on Hythe Bridge Street, is one of Oxford’s most popular Friday club nights.
Parts of central Oxford were closed off by police this morning after a “suspect package” was found outside a building.
The area outside Rewley House, a building at the junction between Wellington Square and St John Street, was closed until 9.15am.
A member of staff at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages claimed in an email at 8.50am that “there is a suspect package” opposite the building.
“If you have any classes at 41 or 47 Wellington Square you may want to contact your tutor for advice,” she added.
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said: “Police were called to Wellington Square at 7.40am this morning (21/2) to reports of a suspicious package being found.”
“Officers attended and it was quickly established the package posed no threat. A cordon, which had been put in place, has been lifted,” she added.
This closure follows a more serious scare around the corner from Rewley House last week, when parts of St Giles were closed off for most of the day after an “IRA-style” suspicious package was delivered to an RAF office.
An eyewitness at this morning’s incident said that a “large crowd” was present. Police and the University Security Services were on duty at the scene.
Students praised the authorities for their handling of the situation. Cherry Jackson, a student at St Peter’s who lives in the area, said they did “a great job”.
“I woke up and went to college, and the streets were cordoned off. The police didn’t give an explanation, but I understand that they’ve got to do that.”
“I don’t know why it was closed, but it was over within two hours. It was done quickly and efficiently, and the police and security forces did a great job,” she said.
Rewley House is part of the University’s Department for Continuing Education, which runs courses for members of the public.
A meeting of the Oxford County Council has passed a new budget agreement meaning that 38% of proposed funding cuts to the homeless services sector will go ahead. The decision means a £1.5m reduction in funding for Oxford’s homeless services and comes after months of campaigning in protest from students, service workers and members of the public.
Lesley Dewhurst, head of an Oxford charity for the homeless told The Oxford Student: “This is very disappointing news, but it is not different from anything we expected. We were very pleased with the campaign and the public support that we found along the way.”
“We know that the County Council is now talking with district councils and hope that at least a bit of money can be found in other budgets to help us maintain a decent level of services.”
It is still unclear how the cuts will affect the homeless sector. Dewhurst explained that, “It is too early too early to tell what the future is for homelessness services, since we don’t know how the commissioners intend to apportion these cuts.”
“However, we do know one thing for certain – our services will need to shrink and adapt which will not mean good things for the homeless people we serve”.
Opposition to the cuts has been widespread. At a well-attended protest to oppose the changes last month, Dewhurst warned that there would be “more deaths on the streets and the closure of one of Oxford’s three night shelters”, if the budget plans go ahead.
The cuts follow a Central government plan to reduce Oxford County Council’s budget by £61m over the next four years.
In opposition to the cuts, Green councillor Sam Coates said: “I want to make the case for living in a society where people care about each other. A more humane society is something worth paying for.”
In defence of the budget, Conservative councillor Ian Hudspeth, the chair of the meeting, said: “Voting against this budget will be voting against flood relief money, against increasing care visits to 30 minutes and against the vulnerable residents of Oxford”.
The budget was passed by 30 votes to 27.
A group claiming to be the IRA has announced its responsibility for explosive devices sent to army offices in Oxford last week.
The group made the claim in a message received by a Northern Irish media outlet last Saturday.
In a statement, the police acknowledged that the group used a “recognised codeword”.
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said: “We are aware of claims of responsibility for the devices that were sent to army recruitment offices in centres of England last week.”
“The claim was received on Saturday, 15 February […] the claim was allegedly made on behalf of the ‘IRA’”.
These reports follow events last Thursday in which four suspected explosive devices were sent to offices in Oxford, Slough, Kent and Brighton.
Police evacuated St.Giles, and closed off the road for a number of hours while bomb disposal units investigated the packages.
One of the devices reportedly bore a Republic of Ireland postmark and Downing Street announced late last week that the bombs possessed all “the hallmarks of Northern Ireland-related terrorism”.
An Irish News outlet reported an ‘IRA’ statement which said: “The IRA claims responsibility for the explosive devices that were sent to british armed recruitment centres in England. Attacks will continue when and where the IRA see fit.”
Following an end to its armed campaign in 2005, the IRA disbanded. However, the New IRA formed shortly before the London Olympics in 2012.
The bombs have sparked cross-party condemnation in Northern Ireland. Martin McGuiness, deputy first minister called it “an attack on the peace process”, adding “those responsible belong in the past. Their actions must be condemned.”