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29 March 2019, 15:35 | Updated: 29 March 2019, 16:28
Oxford City Council says it won't be able to install lighting in a park, after calls for the move to improve safety.
The Oxford Brookes' Student Union says there's been a series of attacks at South Park in Headington. It's asking council to install lighting and trim undergrowth.
An Oxford City Councillor said: "I welcome the efforts of the Student Union to raise awareness of safety issues. As somebody who lives beside the park, I hear a lot from students and my neighbours about their safety concerns. Drug use and dealing is raised as the number one concern and, as a result, the Oxford Public Spaces Drugs Taskforce has been tackling drug dealers and users in the park. The Taskforce is moving onto another part of East Oxford because we're confident that we've made the park a safer place, and I hope many students and neighbours will be reassured by our track record.
"There are two important questions to address here. Does the City Council have the right to install lighting? The answer is no: Oxford Preservation Trust bought South Park in 1932 and gave it to the City of Oxford in 1959. They hold a legal covenant on the land and that restricts us from installing lighting, so we just don't have the automatic right to install lighting. And, if the City Council could install lighting, should it? The answer, again, is no: a number of residents have raised concerns with me over the years, as council tax payers, about money being spent on this project when students can walk an extra minute to the same destination in the darker hours of the day by an existing, well-lit, accessible route. Residents also raise strong concerns about light pollution and its impact on South Park's unique designation as a dark sky area and its wildlife and biodiversity."