Archive for April, 2010

Office Desks and Storage

Two corner desks plus some pedestal-type storage units. Free to VRG residents or will be available on Green Balloon Day – May Day

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Calling all HiFi Enthusiasts

I have some very high quality speaker cable – two runs with terminators – plus a pair of good, tonally tuned speaker stands. Anyone interested should call Paul on 452821

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Double Mattress for Free

I have a 2yr old double sized IKEA mattress – 140cm x 195cm – which will go to the skip this weekend unless anyone wants it. Please call me if interested – 510094

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Local Environment Champions: Useful Notes from March Meeting

Questions raised and answers from the meeting of 16th March 2010

What can be done to recycle things like batteries, lightbulbs and old cars?

  • Batteries: Under a new piece of legislation, shops selling batteries and electrical items now have an obligation to collect and recycle them.  Oxford City Council have now got recycling boxes for household batteries in various locations (including the Town Hall reception) provided by Valpak.  You can also recycle batteries at Redbridge and some supermarkets such as Tesco.
  • Lightbulbs –Redbridge take energy saving and fluorescent tubes – traditional light bulbs are currently not recyclable in Oxford.
  • Abandoned cars are collected and taken to a licensed Environment Agency de-polluting plant where all the hazardous chemicals are removed and the vehicle parts are re-used or recycled as far as possible.

Plastics recycling – the publications say that the Council only collect plastic bottles and no other plastics, and yet when people put other plastics out they are indeed collected – what is the right message regarding plastic recycling?  Need clear information for householders.

  • The recycling facility that we are currently have a contract with can only accept certain plastics from us at present.  This will change by October and we will be able to accept more plastics and also Tetrapaks.
  • Information to householders has always been clear and consistent that we ask for plastic bottles only.  We will always ensure that any information going out about the scheme will be as clear as possible – could use Champions to consult on our future communications from a user’s point of view.

Some people are leaving wheelie bins outside their house on the path when they actually have room elsewhere  – surely this is wrong?

  • This is not acceptable as it may obstruct the highways – please report any incidents of this so that we can address  it.

There is a lot of fly-tipping around the A42 – could there be some sort of signage around to warn against this? What can we do to prevent fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping hotspots should be reported to the Council.  If it is a persistent problem, signage and CCTV can be installed and a £2,500 fine can charged to anyone caught.

  • Oxfordshire Waste Partnership are collectively dealing with the ring-road as a shared responsibility.  Problem is that sometimes dealing with fly-tipping requires expensive road closures and we cannot deal with the central reservations and areas directly adjacent to highways.  At weekends the OWP are trying to deal with gullies, glass and litter etc. and are using members of the probation service to help.
  • Many thanks to the Oxford Civic Society for their excellent work with OxClean.

A local pub is sending all their glass to landfill – their excuse is that it is cheaper to do this than recycle – is this true?

  • Different contractors charge different prices.  Certainly with the Council’s City Works commercial waste service is it significantly cheaper to recycle than to send waste to landfill, so there is actually a financial as well as environmental incentive for recycling.
  • Legally, businesses are obliged to recycled at least 2 types of materials.

I understand that it is only Type 1, 2 and 3 plastics that currently get recycled in Oxford which covers a lot more than just bottles – do you have any figures on the rejection rates?

  • None of our loads have ever been rejected.  A very small amount of contamination is tolerated.

Quite a lot of litter gets created when the blue recycling boxes are collected and emptied by the crews. I can understand the pressures they are under to work quickly etc., but what can be done to address this problem?

  • When the new system comes in most people will have wheelie bins for recycling instead of boxes which will go long way to solving the problem.
  • Crews have regular tool-box talks where they are reminded not to leave litter in this way – if you find this is still happening them you can report it to us and we can find out which crews are responsible and talk it through with them.
  • Street cleaning is normally scheduled in for after the refuse/recycling crews have been round so should pick up most of the litter.

I have some concern over the quantity of containers that people are expected to have when they might not have room to store them – what about people in terraces for example who can’t have bins?

  • In future it will be acceptable to use sacks or boxes instead of bins if necessary.

How are you going to persuade students to get on board with the food waste recycling scheme?

  • We have a student liaison officer – Maria Warner – working hard with students to encourage them to recycle.

Regarding the food waste scheme, when the compostable liners that are provided have run out people might not bother/not be able to find further liners to use – problems might occur if people start to use plastic bags instead.  Not all supermarkets stock the compostable liners.  How can we get around this problem?

  • Liners are available at co-op, Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsburys.  Additionally, Oxfordshire Waste Partnership have written to all supermarkets to inform them about the food waste scheme and request that they start stocking compostable liners.
  • It is possible to line the caddies with old newspaper  – there is a link on the website showing how to fold newspaper into a suitable liner.

Would we ever consider reducing the size of the green residual waste bins?

  • It is currently possible to downsize your 240L green wheelie bin if you don’t need/want a standard size one.  If you contact the Council we can arrange for you to have it swapped for a 180L or 140L bin instead.

Are we within the target margins regarding landfill waste?

  • Yes, we are within the target so we won’t receive any LATS penalties.

When people are committing environmental crimes such as fly-tipping, who enforces the fines?  How do we catch the people responsible?

  • Some Council enforcement officers are able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs), as can PCSOs and Street Wardens.  More staff are currently being trained to be able to enforce.
  • Brookes University are now employing their own PCSO.

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Minutes of the VRG Meeting held on 30.03.2010

Minutes of the VRG Meeting held on 30.03.2010 at 56 Victoria Road

Present: Ali, Sam, Sue, Nick, Gordon, Betty, Paul, Mary, Philippa, Jelly, Jonathan, Da, Penny.  Apologies: Sally, Mick, Anna, Janet, Manda.

1. Matters arising:

  • Pavements: Jonathan (or Bill) will contact the council person again. The problem with water running is particularly obvious at the moment. There might now be an opportunity for Councillors and prospective Councillors to take an interest.
  • The Website: The password for contributing is “summertown99”. It continues to be generally agreed that this is a good thing to post these Minutes there. However, in view of the low level of activity, we tabled a proposal to discontinue the website and to concentrate instead on the blog. This proposal will be considered at the next meeting (27th May), and anyone with views to contribute should contact Paul (one of the Moderators), or plan to attend.
  • Open Streets: This took place as planned was brought without any specific VRG participation.
  • Spring OxClean event: Five Street members took part and said it was enjoyable and worth doing – as reported in https://vrgblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/.
  • North Oxford Low Carbon initiative: Sam reported that he is participating in meetings to set one up in North Oxford, along similar lines to other Low Carbon initiatives in W Oxford, E Oxford and Wolvercote.
  • Nick announced that he now wishes to hand over the role of “recycling champion” for the Street. The Street “recycling champion”:
  • Is available to give advice to Street members
  • Keeps the battery recycling box
  • Is signed up with the City Council
  • Is invited by the Council every few months to a meeting
  • This is now an open vacancy and anyone wishing to put themselves forward should contact Nick or the Chair (Ali). Nick will continue to keep the Box in his front garden until this is settled.

2. Musical Evening – 13th March

  • This was judged to be a great success and well received; in particular great atmosphere, high level of performances – very enjoyable; thanks were expressed by the Chair and others, to John, Mary, Paul and Mick who did all the work organising it, to the great performers and to others who helped on the night.
  • A number of “lessons were learned” that might help further improve future events, and Mary together with Paul agreed to start drawing up notes to be filed for the future. (Similar notes have been found to be very useful and a contribution to the success of other Street events.)

A particular point was that we should try to start promptly no later than 7:30, and continue to “time box” the program so that children attending or participating can stay to the end.

  • The suggestion was welcomed that we plan to hold this event again in 18 months; every year felt like a bit too much.
  • John expressed the view that although we drew on a surprisingly wide range of talent from the Street, there was still a lot of known performing skill in the Street which was not on display. Maybe we need to find an even more inclusive format that would encourage contributions from other people able to entertain. Obvious examples might be dance and drama. But there must be others! Any ideas, please get in touch with John, Mary, Mick or Paul.

3. Green Balloon Day – 1st May at No.46.   (note this has been changed from the original; 8th May)

  • Because of collisions with other events, we agreed to bring this forward to the 1st May, still holding the tea beach at number 46 (Mary and Paul).
  • Nick will ask Dick if we can have the Morris Dancers again.
  • A 1st Notice will be sent around the week of 3rd April: Paul to edit and product; Betty, Da, Jelly to distribute. This will highlight the change of date.
  • Following a discussion of “themes” for the day, it was proposed that we decorate some or all of the lamp-posts with red, white and blue paper [Ali to deal with this)
  • The volumes of things for exchange and the number of people participating seem to have been falling in recent years.

–      Individuals agreed to talk to known newcomers to the street in person about Green Balloon Day. If you were one of the ones who offered to talk to a newcomer please try and do so soon, so they can get it in their diary!

–      Children in particular value the Day, and so we should take any opportunities to make sure we address their needs: encouragement to all to put out toys, etc.; thought about activities for them.

–      Recognising the value of the Day for newcomers, should we have specific activities for them? It was agreed that the Notices should highlight the Day as a “chance to meet the neighbours”.

  • Ali will organise a Pet Show.
  • A 2nd Notice will be send around the 24th April.  Paul will design and produce, Ali will add green balloons, Betty, Da, Jelly will distribute.
  • Logistics on the day:

–      Mary will do shopping

–      Nick, Sue and Mary will set up at #46

–      The tea rota will be:
10:30         Nick, Sue
11:00         Penny, Jenny
11:30         Jonathan, Sam
12:00         Betty, Ali

–      John and Jonathan will clear away.

4. Money

Treasurer Anna reported that the Musical Evening collection was £20, and the net cost £133, which leaves a balance of £471.

There are currently no proposals to spend this money on anything in particular. Suggestions should be passed to the Chair (Ali).

5. Repainting of Street signs

Gordon pointed out that the Council have repainted some of the signs, and that the work is satisfactory. It was agreed that we should wait and see if they attend to the remaining signs before we do anything further ourselves.

6. VRG Chairperson

Ali again asked people to think about a change of Chairperson; she would like to step down before the summer break in VRG activity, and points out that it is good for the Group to have a regular change of Chair.

This is an open vacancy and anyone wishing to offer themselves should get in touch with Ali. The duties are light; there is considerable experience among VRG members in running events; previous Chairs have found it an excellent way of getting to know the Street and residents. Meanwhile Ali will continue as Acting Chair, but she asks everyone PLEASE to think seriously about who can take over.

7. Garden Party

Da has volunteered the use of her garden (number 80), with Jelly’s as backup. She will confirm the 11th July as the date.

8. Any Other Business

  1. The Chair expressed thanks to Betty for her outstanding and essential work in distributing Notices up and down the Street.
  2. It was agreed that Nick should write to Catriona’s mother on behalf of the Street say that she is fondly remembered.
  3. Betty reported what looks like fire damage to the Street notice-board. Gordon will look at it and report to the next meeting with a recommendation.
  4. Paul and Jonathan both spoke on the proposal for a car-sharing scheme in the Street. Jonathan will investigate and consider the possibility of participating in existing commercial schemes, in particular “StreetCar”.
  5. We considered whether the new houses facing the Street in Water Eaton Lane should be added to the distribution. The balance of view appeared to be generally favourable.  Distributors please keep this in mind when distributing GBD leaflets.
  6. Paul said that Gresham Books were disposing of a large, high-speed photocopier, and wanted to see it go to a good home where it would be available to Street members. Anyone who has room for this machine with a mains supply should contact Paul.

Next Meeting: 27th May, at number 80 (Da’s), 8.00pm.

Many thanks to Sam and Ali for hosting this meeting.

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