Improving our Streets
One year ago, we set up a local car-sharing initiative called IFCAR. Neighbours made their cars available to registered and approved drivers to borrow for an hourly fee when the cars weren’t being used. It’s supported by a commercial firm called Hiyacar – known as ‘airbnb for cars’ – but only people who live in Iffley Fields can borrow the cars. Hiyacar sort out the insurance, the scheduling (via their app) and checking and verifying all the registered drivers.
The idea was to make it easier for people living locally to not own their own car, if they could always find another one available, and through doing that to reduce climate emissions and the space cars take up on our streets – freeing up space for people, emergency vehicle access and hopefully eventually trees and nice spaces. It also splits the cost of car ownership (average £3-4k per year) as people that use a car infrequently won’t need to own one but can pay their neighbour a fee to borrow theirs.
One year in, it’s going well. We’ve got 7 cars, and 20 registered drivers (although many have only borrowed once) and there’s not been any problems. Many of the drivers are also registered with Co-wheels which is great – the idea is to make more very local cars available, not to get them used really frequently. Other people have copied the idea and launched similar community car-shares in other locations including Florence Park, Oatlands, Cumnor and Kennington.
However, we’re keen to expand. 7 cars is really decent, but it doesn’t quite guarantee there will be one available if someone needs one last minute to drive to another city overnight. I’d love to see more cars (especially EVs, as people always ask about them) and a few more drivers. Your car has to be less than 15 years old, and to borrow one you have to be age 23-75.
Iffley Fields is Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) that was introduced in October 2018, after a campaign by IFRA, Additional visitors permit can be obtained from the Council.
If you are concerned about persistent illegal parking, you can report the car to Parking Control 0345 3371138, Option 4. Stating the make, colour and registration number.
Houses in multiple occupation
For many young people renting a room in a shared house is their only option and we welcome them to our community. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) require planning consent and a renewable license from the Council, though there are few realistic grounds to oppose the license or its renewal.
Each application for HMO status is considered by IFRA on its merits. Our main concerns are to:
Ensure that change of use has been granted
Ensure the accommodation is an acceptable standard, in particular we have concerns about overcrowding and lack of shared space.
Take account of the impact on the area if too many houses become HMOs. The City Council has a policy that no area should have more than 20% of houses as HMOs and we support this.
Frequently planning applications for change of status are sought retrospectively, which may be a way of forcing the Council's hand. IFRA will oppose such retrospective applications and has urged the Council to introduce sanctions to discourage this behaviour. A recent trend is for landlords to apply retrospectively to change HMOs to small independent units, avoiding the regulations attached to HMOs. We will monitor this to see the impact it has.
Many residents have reported breathing difficulties as a result of wood burning stoves and domestic fires in our streets. Iffley Fields is in a Smoke Control Area. This means that only authorised fuel can be used, except in some wood burning stoves which meet Government standards and are exempt. Contravention can lead to a maximum fine of £1000.
Recent research has shown the damage to health of pollutants, such as particulate matter. In the UK, the single biggest source of this type of air pollution is domestic coal and wood-burning.
There are ways of using wood burning stoves more safely. Such as ensuring ventilation, regular servicing and making sure wood has less than 20% moisture. You can buy moisture monitors for less than £20. DEFRA has produced a practical guide on the use of open fires and wood burning stoves, see here.
The IFRA air quaity subgroup is monitoring Particulate levels and will report on what we find. If you would like to check your indoor PM levels, we may be able to lend a monitor (email email@example.com). Any residents wanting to join the group are most welcome!
The Iffley Pickers
We welcome people to our area to enjoy the green spaces and the river. However, this can cause a litter problem. Unfortunately. some people don't take their litter home with them. We hope providing new bins in Meadow Lane will encourage people to take their litter home.
The Iffley Pickers are a group of residents who organise litter picks around Iffley Fields. The group is supported by OxClean by providing litter pickers and high vis jackets. Since then the group has collected regularly collected bags of rubbish with just a few volunteers.
If you would like to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thames Valley Police and Neighbourhood Watch receive many reports of dubious and occasionally threatening salespeople, known as Nottingham Knockers. They seem to target vulnerable people living alone. After a discussion on Facebook, most people welcomed the idea of Iffley Fields becoming a No Cold Calling Zone, though there were concerns that this might affect legitimate fundraising by charities.
IFRA’s application for Iffley Fields to be a No Cold Calling Zone was refused as the Council and Trading Standards had not received many complaints from Iffley Fields. Before introducing the zone, they would have looked at the scale of the problem and canvassed residents’ views.
If you have any concerns about a caller, report them to Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or in an emergency the Police on 999.
If you would like a sticker saying you do not buy at the door, please email email@example.com.