Oxford residents “spying” on students

Oxford City Council has this week proposed that residents could be recruited to catch students monopolising parking,which some residents have labelled “spying”.

The Council’s head of planning, Michael Crofton-Briggs, said that although the DVLA will no longer identify student vehicles, “residents themselves can provide us with the necessary evidence. The universities and colleges can also gather information.”

The move came after proposed new accommodation for Oriel graduates in the Bartlemas area was rejected following strong opposition from local residents, including concern over car parking and traffic congestion. The Council’s Local Plan, which sets out development policies, states that students in purpose-built student accommodation are not be allowed to bring cars into Oxford.

The building proposal was rejected by planning inspector JP Sargent who in his report commented on the intended ‘car-free’ nature of the development, saying that: “I am not convinced there is any way in which that could be enforced.”

Local resident Richard English commented: “If agreements stopping students bringing in cars cannot be enforced, then there is a serious issue about whether the council will be able to approve future planning applications.”

OUSU VP Graduates, Beth Evans, questioned the parking restrictions that were the source of the problem: “Students with children are more likely to be graduate students and will be more in need of a car. Likewise, our PGCE students may be in need of a car when travelling to the schools they work at while on placement.”

At the time of going to press the University had no policy on this, although Mr Crofton-Briggs said that Oxford Brookes already has wardens to check where students are parking.