Conversation with the new City Centre Manager
Speaker: Laurie-Jane Taylor, Oxford City Centre Manager.
There was a well-attended and lively gathering to meet the new City Centre Manager. After giving a resumé of her very varied background of activities within the city, Laurie explained her role as a “conduit” between the City and County Councils, and the people and businesses of Oxford. Her zone extends from Magdalen Bridge to the station, from Folly Bridge to St Giles church.
Her four core areas of activity are:
1. developing strong growth in both private and public sectors
2. enhancing the city centre, dealing with nuisances
3. promoting events to increase footfall
4. safeguarding of the environment, especially through the “purple flag” scheme of City Centre Managers, which aims among other things to improve safety of evening/night entertainment events.
Subjects discussed included:
– the covered market and the need to prevent takeover by “clone” retailers
– inadequate provision of space for pedestrians
– inadequate provision public loos (are shops offering use of loos to the public as proposed?)
– inadequate provision of drinking fountains
– inadequate provision of seating and places for people to rest, eat sandwiches etc
– need for traffic reduction
– shared space and the need to modify behaviour for amicable sharing of space (Poynton and Times Square both quoted)
– possible problems for retailers in other parts of city once Westgate has been redeveloped
– need for better access and parking for cycles, removal of abandoned cycles
– lack of a good east-west cycle route
– need for improvement to the route between station and city centre
– need to appreciate visitors are not all shoppers, and with differing need and interests
– need to improve connections between Castle area and rest of city
Laurie was warmly thanked for coming to open a dialogue with OxPA, Cyclox and the Civic Society, which she has offered to resume later after more time in the job. Meanwhile, she has invited us to contact her by email with problems and comments: LTaylor@oxford.gov.uk