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Trup to “continue” fight after council leader suggests monorail

Trup to “continue” fight after council leader suggests monorail

OUSU President-elect Louis Trup’s dreams of futuristic transport for Oxford may come true after the leader of the County Council proposed a monorail for the city.

Ian Hudspeth, the Conservative councillor for Woodstock, told a council event that “we can’t rule out ideas that might seem fanciful, such as creating a passenger service on the Cowley branch line, a mass transit system into Oxford.”

“Why couldn’t we create a monorail connecting key locations around the city’s ring road?” he asked. “There are exciting times ahead. Towns across Oxfordshire are going to increase in size, with places such as Bicester set to double in size over the next ten years…and the county council needs to lead the way in developing the supporting infrastructure.”

Hudspeth was speaking at the “Oxfordshire Connect” event where he outlined £800 million of transport investment for the county. The plans are due to a predicted increase of 100,000 new homes in the county over the next fifteen to twenty years.

Louis Trup, OUSU President-elect and the original proposer of an Oxford monorail, cautiously greeted Hudspeth’s statement, saying: “I’d say it’s clearly early days. Students want it, and their voices will be relayed to the council through OUSU.”

“I’ll continue to fight for a monorail,” he said.

Other plans outlined by Hudspeth include better facilities at Oxford and Didcot railway stations as well as improvements to the M40, Oxford’s major local motorway. He stressed that the monorail plans, if implemented, would only come to fruition beyond 2020.

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Baby Love ousted as Oriel takes back building

Baby Love ousted as Oriel takes back building

Partygoing students across the city are expressing their disappointment after popular nightclub Baby Love confirmed that it is set to move from its current site.

The club, which is still open, will eventually close and relocate as part of landlord Oriel’s plans for the redevelopment of King Edward Street.

A spokesperson for the college told The Oxford Student: “Oriel College has a long term strategy for the gradual redevelopment and improvement of King Edward Street.”

“As a result the College will be taking back the premises occupied by the Baby Love Bar shortly. We understand that the Baby Love Bar intends to relocate to new premises as soon as it can and wish it well for the future.”

The club, which is on two floors and has two bars, is known in Oxford as a popular alternative to larger, more mainstream venues. Martin Forde, who runs Baby Love, was keen to assure students that it would survive in some form.

He said: “Over the past year our landlord Oriel College has taken a decision to redevelop the site at King Edward Street, and as a result, we have mutually agreed that Baby Love would find a new home. Neither side knows exactly when this is going to happen, as third party decisions are involved.”

“Baby Love would be taking its ‘love’ to a new premises, and would inform you and all its loyal customers the minute it’s been agreed. It’s a new beginning and an exciting one for us. We can assure all our regular customers, that none of our promoted nights will be affected and parties will continue as usual, either at our present or our relocated site.”

“Baby Love would like to thank Oriel College for the years of fun it has afforded our customers and us in what has become as institution amongst the students of Oxford University. We thank them and extend all our best wishes for their future plans,” he added.

The promise of relocation was not enough for many students, some of whom placed a tongue-in-cheek blame on Oriel for the loss of the establishment.

Jane Cahill, a third-year History and Politics student at Queen’s, said: “I suspect this is really because Oriel boat club are angry that gay marriage caused so much flooding and stopped their races. Taking our Tuesdays away from us is their revenge. Unbelievable.”

Tom Rutland, OUSU President, said: “First Oriel’s JCR disaffiliates from OUSU, and now the college is endangering my favourite club nights: Poptarts and Supermarket!”

“Students can expect a strongly-worded OUSU Council motion and a priority campaign to #savebabylove when they come back in Trinity Term,” he added.

Baby Love is one of the city’s favourite nightclubs. It plays host to LGBTQ Tuesday club night Poptarts and is also home to the popular alternative music night Supermarket.

It has also hosted launch and fundraising nights for some of Oxford’s zines, including Cuntry Living and NoHeterOx**.

LJ Trup, OUSU President-elect and frequent Baby Love DJ, said: “Baby Love is my home. It’s where I grew up from a Spotify lover with a dream to a fully fledged quasi-disc jockey.”

“The toilets have been the setting for the forging of many a friendship. The panoramic view of the pole you see as a DJ is more beautiful to me than the view from the highest mountain. To lose this is like losing an aspect of my being.”

“Together we shall lament hipster nights of old and together we will fight tooth and nail to ensure the resurrection of this temple of debauchery,” he added.

“We do this for our children and our children’s children, so that they will know what it means to be an Oxonian.”

Baby Love in its current location is open every night from 8pm until 3am.

On hearing the news, Otamere Guobadia – a second-year Law student at Univ and member of the NoHeterOx** editorial team – wrote an ode to Baby Love: “I rend my garments, cursed the gods, I wept for an eternity and I’ll weep for an eternity more. How can Baby Love be no more?”

“For better or for worse, I can chart my loss of dignity through those doors, those booths, that dance floor. The dreaming spires will never be the same. ‘Stop all the clocks…’”

Cai Wilshaw, a second-year Classics student at St Anne’s, said: “For those of us who aren’t particular fans of Camera or Bridge, Babylove has always been our choice haunt on Tuesday and Thursday nights.”

He expressed his concern about the future of Baby Love: “I doubt that the owners will be able to move quickly enough to ensure the return of Poptarts and Supermarket next term, and I fear that this alleged relocation will turn out to be a load of hot air.”

“Its many revellers will miss the sweaty walls, the faint smell of sweat and regret, but most of all – the pole. I hope the owners will ensure that they replicate such features should they manage to find an alternate venue,” he added.

EXCLUSIVE: Anger as colleges call St Giles Christmas fair “tawdry” and “poor quality”

EXCLUSIVE: Anger as colleges call St Giles Christmas fair “tawdry” and “poor quality”

Leading cultural venues have condemned a group of Oxford colleges after they raised objections to the city’s annual Christmas fair – despite it raising £1.8m for the local economy.

According to official City Council documents leaked to The Oxford Student, a group of “stakeholders including colleges on or near St Giles” described the funfair – popular with the children of local residents – as “tawdry”, and described the stage music as being of “extremely poor quality”.

The documents say Balliol described itself as “marooned” and like “an island in the centre of Oxford” during the event, held in November last year. The college is located on Broad Street, which according to the City Council website was only closed for seven hours during the three-day event.

An unnamed college claimed that “many of our staff were considerably inconvenienced” while another proposed “a short parade on one weekday evening” as an alternative to the festival, which last year brought around £1.8m to the local economy and was attended by 100,000 people.

The objections, among others, have led to the cancellation of the annual lantern parade and the decision to disperse this year’s festival around the city rather than keep the focus on St Giles.

Cultural venues expressed their disappointment at this move. Jeremy Spafford, Director of Arts at the Old Fire Station, said staff at the centre were “very disappointed” and that this year’s festival would be a “diminished version”.

“My understanding is that the main objections to the Christmas Light Festival came from colleges which did not like the disruption,” he said.

“I am disappointed that those that raised objections were unable to see the value of bringing thousands of members of the public who would not normally visit cultural venues into the city centre for what was a joyous celebration of the City and its cultural heritage.”

“We know that the various venues and the university museums had fantastic footfall and this could not be achieved without a significant centrepiece event in St Giles and without the pull of the lantern parade which brought children from Blackbird Leys, Wood Farm, Barton and Rose Hill into the event with their families.”

Students also raised concerns over the plans during a meeting of John’s JCR, with one member pointing out that children “have a wonderful time at the Christmas fair” and that if the changes went ahead John’s would be seen as “the college that banned Christmas”.

However, other students expressed their annoyance at the disruption caused by the fair. One said the music stage was “facing her window and has been disturbing her (and a handful of others’) work during the day as well as stopping her getting to sleep at night.”

Jonathan Lloyd, CEO of Pegasus – an arts organisation specialising in youth theatre and emerging artists – said he was also “disappointed” at the decision.

“All of us at Pegasus are disappointed about the proposals to remove the lantern parade and fair from this year’s Christmas Light Festival; last year’s parade provided a fantastic focal point for the festival, involving hundreds of local schoolchildren, and attracting new audiences into the city centre’s cultural venues.”

“It created a wonderful, communal, carnival-like atmosphere in the run-up to Christmas. That would be difficult to re-create if the festival is dispersed through various venues,” he added.

Estimates made by the City Council suggest that last year’s event saw an increase in visitor numbers of up to 336% for cultural venues in the city.

Peter McQuitty, the Council’s Head of Policy, Culture and Communications, said they carried out “extensive consultation” to make this year’s event better.

“It was clear that there was concern about a three day road closure with criticism of the inconvenience caused by it and the impact that it had on the city. There was also some concern about the noise levels.”

“Therefore we have taken the decision to hold a Christmas event over three days but there will be no road closures and no event in St Giles in order to minimise disruption to residents, businesses, and people who work in the city,” he added.

Staff at St John’s and Balliol did not respond to requests for comment.

Plush “devastated” after assault on Teddy Hall patron

Plush “devastated” after assault on Teddy Hall patron

The Plush Lounge has expressed “great regret” after Teddy Hall MCR member Jeanne Ryan was assaulted on the premises.

After the assault, which took place at approximately 1:55 on Saturday evening, Jeanne Ryan posted a “#nomakeupselfie” picture of her injuries (warning: graphic content) on Facebook. She said she was assaulted “for telling a guy in a club who groped me that it is completely inappropriate to touch a woman without her consent, I was beaten. He told me to “Smile!”, too.”

Ryan added: “No, we do not have to wear makeup, no, we do not have to smile and, most importantly, no, we do NOT have to be touched“.

The post ended urging readers to donate to the Oxford Rape and Crisis Centre “to channel my rage into something constructive”. Her page on the donation website JustGiving had, at the time of writing, received £5799 of donations and her post had been shared 4,245 times.

Plush’s manager, Stuart Hayle, said: “Plush prides itself on its excellent reputation as a safe and aggression-free environment where incidents of this nature are extremely rare. The entire management team is devastated by what has happened, and our thoughts at this time are with the very brave victim.”

“As a venue, we are very selective about to whom we allow entry, and we maintain very high standards of behaviour to which we expect our clientele to adhere. As a result, we have virtually no violent incidents in our club,” he added.

Hayle further claimed that double the legal requirement for door staff were on duty on Saturday.

He added that, after calling an ambulance for Jeanne, door staff pursued her attacker. As they failed to apprehend him, Plush has provided CCTV footage to the police to assist in their investigation.

Marcus Le, a first-year at Magdalen, said the incident was “sickening”.

“It is an utter disgrace that such atrocities are still taking place today and I am especially shocked that it happened in a city, which prides itself as the “city of spires.” Jeanne should not have had to fight off anyone for sexually molesting her in the first place, and to be attacked for it is sickening and makes me feel ashamed to be part of this community,” he said.

A full statement from Jeanne Ryan is to follow. To donate to the Oxford Rape and Crisis Centre, text OXRC47 to 70070 or visit http://www.justgiving.com/jeanne-marie

Market to be covered by new management

Market to be covered by new management

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.”

Homeless cuts spark debate between City Council candidates

Homeless cuts spark debate between City Council candidates

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.”

 

Student admissions to A&E on the rise

Student admissions to A&E on the rise

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.

Dead badger causes fatal lorry crash

Dead badger causes fatal lorry crash

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.

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