This was the first of what should be a series of meetings set up following the public meeting on 9 December. This particular meeting was not public but invitations were sent to everyone present on 9 December who expressed an interest in being involved, plus local councillors and some other ‘stakeholders’.
Perhaps it was the timing – 5.30 to 7.30 pm three days before Christmas – but in my view the number of locals who turned up was surprisingly low. Highfield Residents’ Association and Friends of Old Headington were represented; Old Road, the Sandfield Guesthouse and a few others were there. Local councillors Ruth Wilkinson (City, Headington), Roy Darke (City, Headington Hill & Northway) and Liz Brighouse (County, Churchill & Lye Valley) came; Ruth gave apologies for Roz Smith (County, Headington & Quarry). Cyclox had been unable to find someone to attend at short notice but would otherwise have been there. @headingtonnews and I made up the numbers.
To their credit, the Trust and Vital fielded a full team, with two from the Trust and five from Vital (I hope I’ve got that right). Mark Neal, the Trusts’ Project Director and Interim Head of Estates chaired the meeting.
I’m not going to write a verbatim account, just the main new points which came out. You can catch up on the background in my earlier posts, the Project Team’s website and the ‘Disruption’ thread on the e-democracy forum.
The first piece of good news is that the Trust has recruited a Communications person for the project. I hope she will introduce herself here, or on twitter, or elsewhere before too long. It should mean that enquiries and questions sent by email, twitter etc will be answered promptly, although I don’t expect this will start to work properly until after the Christmas/New Year break.
They are open to suggestions about how they can best communicate to everyone affected. They expect to use their own website and to ask community resources like Headington News’ website, this blog, Headington Action’s website, and local twitter accounts to help spread the message. It was recognised that internet-based communication only reached a self-contained subset of local people so a printed newsletter delivered door-to-door is a strong probability.
Another positive step forward is that Vital’s project team are now much better informed about the area than they were at the meeting on the 9th. They have walked every affected street counting driveways, counting parked cars at different times of day, estimating parking spaces, looking at key access points. They have spoken to a number of residents and already sorted out some problems – Paul from Sandfield Guest House said he was now happy about access arrangements for himself and his guests.
As for the road closures themselves, the contractors have to give two weeks’ notice so the signs have already gone up for the work starting in All Saints’ Road on 4 January.
They are also working on producing and delivering detailed information to all the affected properties. We saw draft examples of these, but I understand the first ones are not yet ready to go out.
Vital described the process of excavating, laying the pipes and reinstating the roads.
- The actual excavation work will be done by Vital’s sub-contractors CPC Contracts. I’ve not been able to find any details about them online. [Update 19/01/2016: The sub-contractors are in fact CPC Civils, and their website is cpccivils.net/.]
- The excavation site will be fenced off with 1.8m high fencing.
- The site will normally cover the whole width of the road (Old Road, London Road and parts of Latimer Road will be exceptions) but not the pavements.
- All equipment and excavated material will be kept within the fenced-off areas.
- Site workers will be required to park in compounds on the hospital sites, not in local streets.
- There will be a foreman at each working site, and/or at least one of Vital’s project engineers. Part of their job will be to sort out any local issues.
- Outside working hours a security guard will be on duty at all times, based in a hut next to the fenced-off area. A contact phone number will be on the huts, the fencing and the road signs. As well as being security-trained, the guards will be expected to work as out-of-hours liaison with residents …..
- …. but when more than one site is open (which is most of the time) there will only be one security guard on duty out-of-hours so he/she will have to be contacted by phone if there is a problem at the un-manned site.
The situation regarding alternative parking is still unclear. For Sandfield residents the project team plans to make a temporary car park in the JR grounds opposite the Nursery. It’s not yet clear how they will control access to this. They are also seeing if it is possible to make similar arrangements using the old Park Hospital site off Old Road.
The County Council has agreed in principle to give affected residents free visitor parking permits for use in the same parking zone as their property. These apparently have to be paid for by somebody, and nothing has yet been resolved. Otherwise the message seems to be “Do the best you can”.
There was plenty more detail but too much to go into here. Trees will be protected; noise should be minimal; emergency services will know what to do.
There will be more liaison meetings. The next one will be in the second week of January (date to be agreed) provisionally in All Saint’s Church House in New High Street, the same as the 9 December meeting. I will try to clarify who will be invited and I’m sure our Councillors will be doing the same.