Oxford City Council replies to postal vote problem

Through a glass, darklyWE HAD an urgent message from Oxford City Council after we filed an FOI request to them yesterday about tomorrow’s general election.  The reply to our questions are detailed below.  I’ll address an ROI to the Vale of White Horse council. ♥

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From: THOMAS Jeremy J.
Oxford City Council

6 May 2015

Dear Mr. Magee,

Given the substance of your request, I will respond immediately and personally. I am the Returning Officer (RO) for the Oxford East constituency.

I am not the RO for the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency. The RO for that constituency is David Buckle who is the Chief Executive of the Vale of White Horse Council. The issuing of postal votes for that constituency was undertaken by that Council and the issuing of postal votes was not therefore ‘ outsourced’ by me to them. It was and is their responsibility.

What has happened in the last few days is that I have agreed to assist them by re-issuing postal votes on their behalf from the Town Hall in Oxford. As I write this, I can tell you that we re-issued approximately 150 on their behalf. Replacement packs may be requested up to 5pm tomorrow and completed packs should be returned to the RO at the Vale ( or any polling station in the constituency) by close of poll at 10pm tomorrow.

I hope that assists. If you have a complaint then you need to direct that to the RO at the Vale.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Thomas.

Jeremy Thomas | Head of Law and Governance | Oxford City Council | Law and Governance |
St. Aldate’s Chambers | Oxford | OX1 1DS | DX 4309 OXFORD 1 | Email: [email address] | 01865 252224

Votes go missing in key marginal Oxfordshire constituency

smartalxWE’RE HELPING Francis Delaney on his way to a charity bike ride from Oxford to Paris – you can see details of that ride on tourdeframbo.com

Francis set off on his  221 mile journey last Saturday – but needed a postal vote for the general election which happens this Thursday, the 7th of May.

The postal vote hadn’t arrived by Thursday last week but with the help of local  Lib Dem candidate Layla Moran, we managed to get one to him in the nick of time.  His constituency is a key marginal – West Oxford and Abingdon.  Only 176 votes separated the winner, Tory Nicola Blackwood, and the Lib Dem runner up in 2010.

Layla turned up to wave Francis and the other four cyclists off last Saturday, and chatting to her it became obvious that this wasn’t just a problem confined to him.

She said that a number of postal votes couldn’t be delivered on time.

Today we made a request to Oxford City Council – below.  We’ll keep you updated on what we hear. 

Oxford City Council gives power station plan the nod

The Said Business School (SBS) has revealed details about its plans for the Old Power Station in Arthur Street and it seems that chief planning officer Murray Hancock, Bob Price leader of Oxford City Council and Roger Harmsworth all seem agreed that it is a “good thing”.

(See Said Business School makes bid for Old Power Station and  Old Power Station seems to have a use.)

There is a public meeting about the SBS plans on the 13th of May.

SBS wants to turn the Old Power Station into a place that will provide short term residential accommodation for 160 students and other stuff. The students will be business suits and not undergraduates.

“Consultation” with local residents will precede several months of architectural planning with planning permission folllowing in mid 2016 and then a couple of years building the wing. The frontage of the building is Grade II listed.

Knocking bits down and building this wing will be an interesting logistical exercise given that access to the proposed site will be a bit net.

These screen shots from Google Earth show the area. The wine glass represents the Kite pub, on the corner of Mill Street and Russell Street. The Old Power Station is next to the river with the white roof. in the first screen shot, below.

An eighteen months to two year build will considerably disrupt the people who live round here. 

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 08.14.11 Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 08.16.16 Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 08.19.51

Labour Party keeps spamming me

A Loidensian, it transpiresI HAVE ATTEMPTED to ask – very nicely – the Labour Party to stop spamming me with emails asking me for money.  I’ve never been a member of the Labour Party and have no idea how it has got my email address. So after receiving this one, below, from the travaillistes, I have asked the authorities – the Electoral Commission –  to investigate.  Because enough is enough.  

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Iain McNicol

To

Mike Magee
Today at 5:56 PM

Said Business School makes bid for Osney Power Station

Old Power StationAS WE mentioned a week or two back, Oxford University – which last year had zero plans for the Old Power Station (left)  in Arthur Street, Old Osney, suddenly did a u-turn and said it would be leased to the Said Business School for 30 years.

You can see what the “congregation” said here. We are so looking forward to executive accommodations…

Anyway, down in Mill Street – we were written up in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales you know – and us moderns describe the shenanigans as Carry On Mill Street, we  received a paper missive from the Said Business Centre inviting us to air our views.

Here’s what they had to say, sort of…. 

OsneyPowerStation2

OsneyPowerStation1 1

There’s an A&E crisis in North West London

Dr Helen SainsburyOver the last four to five weeks I’ve visited the Central Middlesex Hospital and Northwick Park hospital, in Harrow, several times. I haven’t visited Ealing because although that is part of the same trust, it is a step too far.

I haven’t been ill myself – I’ve been Nurse Mike, unlikely though that seems. I’ve had some problems with soft furnishings – but that’s a very different story.

I know Northwick Park hospital only too well. After I had my “heart event” I spent weeks in there – got to know the nurses pretty well, so well, in fact that they were prepared to issue me a nurses outfit so I could go to the social club where the lasses and lads drink.

My, how things have changed. The North West London hospital “trust” has decided to amalgamate every single accident and emergency case at Northwick Park, although the infrastructure to support such a move doesn’t seem to exist.

Let me explain. I was working at a magazine I started called The Register at the time, and on my way back to work after a rather shortened sabbatical, I realised that I was having what people call “a heart attack”. After letting two or three Metropolitan lines go, I took myself down to West Harrow tube station and said hey guys, can you call an ambulance?  That might not happen in the future. West Harrow doesn’t seem to have any staff any more. It is all automated.

Within minutes, the ambulance tipped up and delivered me to Northwick Park A&E, where the lovely quacks and quackettes confirmed my self diagnosis.

I won’t dilate on this, but the fact I was at West Harrow tube station, a mere 10 minutes from Northwick Park saved my life.

So, picture this.

You live in Ealing, Harlesden and points east, south, west and north of the area and you are diagnosed with a stroke or a heart event. The ambulance tips up in, say, Ealing, and by the time you get to Mega A&E Northwick Park, your heart/brain has stopped. Well, then, you are dead, and Soylent Green material.

So yesterday, we tipped up at Northwick Party and there was “road rage” because gazillions of people and probably relatives were tipping up at the brand spanking new A&E department at Northwick Park which has, let’s face it, rather a narrow entrance because it was built in the swinging sixties or whenever.

Except it isn’t a brand spanking new A&E department. It looks just like it did when I had my heart attack in 2001 when I worked for The Rogister and stayed there for weeks upon weeks until Harefield Hospital rescued me.

Surely, given a general election in a few weeks time, mainstream politicians should be thinking hard about this? In between times, in the last four to five weeks, I have discovered such disaffection amongst senior to junior NHS staff that I fear for others. Like all of us. The doctors seem confuzzled, the nurses seem confused, the poor bloody infantry haven’t a clue either.  So, politicos, what are answers to this North West London Hospital Trust conundrum? 

Oxford’s Old Power Station seems to have a use

geeseA WHILE BACK, I sent a Freedom of Information request to Oxford University – I wanted to know what the future of this building was.

Here’s what the authorities said last year – Ox Uni “had no plans”. Now Oxford University has plans.

The Old Power Station has had an interesting past – in the late 1890s it provided electrical power to Oxford, fuelled by coal. A look at the 1901 census shows quite a few people in Mill Street worked as stokers to generate the energy.  As far as I’m aware, it’s been used for many purposes since, including, anecdotal evidence suggests, testing jet engines.  It is certainly much higher than it was originally.

I’m grateful to readers of this blog that have now indicated what its future might be.  According to this Congregation notice:

“The capital investment priorities of the University, covering building, equipment, IT infrastructure and provision for matching emerging opportunities, are set out in the Capital Masterplan approved by Council. Two of the capital priorities have bearing on the future of the Old Power Station building.

“The first is a need for a Joint Museums’ Collections Study Centre – a facility that would bring together those parts of the museums’ collections which are not on display, or otherwise located, within their main premises (including artefacts currently located in the Old Power Station), in a state-of-the-art facility.

“The second is a need for better and more centrally located facilities for the Executive Education programme offered by the Saïd Business School. That facility would provide space for teaching and social interaction, together with accommodation. The Old Power Station has been identified as an ideal location for this facility, being in close proximity to both the school and the railway station.

“As each individual project within the Capital Masterplan remains subject to the usual approval processes within the University, Congregation’s authority for this future use of space at the Old Power Station is now sought. Project approval, through Council and its Planning and Resource Allocation Committee, will be sought in due course.”

To that end, the resolution is: “That the Old Power Station building (building number 189), approximately 4,020 sqm net usable area, be allocated to the Saïd Business School for a period of thirty years, the allocation being effective upon the building becoming vacant and subject to Council giving approval for the project to convert the building into a new Executive Education facility to proceed to completion.”

Well shiver my timbers! Some of us locals would like to know if the people who live in the Executive Accommodation will buy us locals a round at The Kite – a pub built in the early years of the 20th century, no doubt to satisfy the thirst of the poor bloody stokers.   

Port Meadow campaign