Making sense of Oxford's growing population

Oxford City Council’s social research officer Mark Fransham                                 Picture:  OX67206 Jon Lewis

Oxford City Council’s social research officer Mark Fransham Picture: OX67206 Jon Lewis Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

IT is Mark Fransham’s job to use the latest figures available to create a better understanding of Oxford.

Oxford City Council’s social research officer is tasked with providing the authority with the most up-to-date information on the city’s population, economy and society.

He said: “This means looking at population growth, the age of the population, international migration, house prices, number and types of jobs, unemployment, poverty and lots more.

“If it can be counted, then it’s something I’m interested in.”

Mr Fransham, who has been in the post for eight years, uses official Government statistics – including the Census – to put together his picture of Oxford. He said: “The council employs me to ensure its strategies and policies have a firm basis in the available evidence.

“The work I do helps to shape the work that is done to meet our priorities.”

He said: “One of our concerns is the poor condition of some private sector rented housing in the city.

“My work can tell our decision makers how much private rented housing there is, where it is, where it is increasing and decreasing, and the types of people who are living in that housing.”

The married father-of-two, who lives in Kidlington, said his work showed Oxford was changing rapidly.

He said: “The old university buildings in the city centre give Oxford a sense of permanence, but so much is changing and so quickly.

“The city is currently in the fastest period of population growth that it has ever experienced, growing at around 15,000 residents per decade.”

Figures also show immigration is increasing. In 2011, 28 per cent of the city’s residents were born outside of the UK compared with 14 per cent in 1991.

And Mr Fransham said: “The Oxford economy has changed beyond recognition over the last 40 years.

“We have moved from an economy where car manufacturing was the major city industry, to one where manufacturing employment has declined and the focus is now on the modern ‘knowledge economy’ focused on the universities, science, healthcare, IT and publishing. Tourism and culture are also very important.

Oxford Mail:

  • Shoppers in Cornmarket, Oxford, part of a busier city centre than even just a decade ago

“Oxford is at the centre of a wider Oxfordshire economy which is buoyant and growing – unemployment is lower than other parts of the country because it has successfully made the transition from manufacturing-led employment to the service sector.”

Recent statistics show Oxford is the least affordable city for housing in the UK – house prices and rents in London are higher but that is offset by higher wages.

Mr Fransham said Oxford had great social divides, adding: “In a city which educates some of the country’s wealthiest, most privileged children, one quarter of Oxford’s children grow up in poverty and educational attainment at GCSE is below the UK average.

“There are also health inequalities which mean that men living in the city’s most deprived communities will live, on average, eight years less than men living in the least deprived areas.”

The researcher said it was important to keep an eye on the latest statistics as they would always tell the council something new.

He said: “The latest statistics from the 2011 Census have told us many things about our population which we didn’t fully understand before, particularly the dramatic changes in population characteristics and patterns of housing.

“These are things which we can see with our own eyes through everyday experience, but the statistics can tell you the scale and the detail of what’s going on for different people in different areas across the city.”

But he added: “It’s also important to remember that numbers can’t tell you everything.

“When you count something and turn it into a number you are simplifying a complex human experience.

“Statistics provide incredibly powerful information but it’s my job to understand and communicate their limitations too.”

Oxford Mail:

John Clapton, above, who in 2011 acted as Census area manager for West Oxfordshire, Oxford, and Cherwell said it was vital for residents to fill in the survey every decade.

But the 68-year-old Kennington resident said it was always hard to persuade people.

He said: “They do not realise how it affects their lives. The figures obtained will determine how much is spent on schools, transport and building houses in their area.

“The challenge we had was to communicate to the public how important it was because it would affect their lives and their children’s lives in almost every aspect.”

INVALUABLE WORK

CITY council leader Bob Price, below, said Mark Fransham’s research is invaluable to the council.

He said: “He provides very useful data on which we base policy making.

“It is important for local authorities to have good data to make good policy, in particularly to look forward – what are the trends and what are the indications of what might happen in the future?”

Oxford Mail:

He added: “The Census has been very significant because what it has shown is the growth of the city in the last decade.

“The demographic profile of the city has changed substantially in that period.”

The Labour politician said Mr Fransham had recently helped the council better understand the impact of the Government’s welfare changes in Oxford.

He said: “That has been very useful for us in trying to help the people who have been affected by the cuts.”

Recent changes include a maximum £500-a-week cap on benefits and a 14 or 25 per cent reduction in housing benefit for those deemed to have “spare” bedrooms, called the “bedroom tax”.

 

 

Our top stories:

Delays on M40 near Bicester after vehicle fire

Oxford Mail: Lorry jackknifes on M40 causing traffic tailbacks

7:18pm Sunday 23rd November 2014

THERE are delays of up to half an hour on the M40 after an earlier vehicle fire.

Woman sexually assaulted in pub car park in Kidlington

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

6:21pm Sunday 23rd November 2014

A woman has been sexually assaulted in a pub car park in Kidlington.

Horse killed in crash near Steeple Aston

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

2:26pm Sunday 23rd November 2014

A HORSE was killed after it collided with a car near Steeple Aston yesterday.

Gritters out tonight as mercury plummets across Oxfordshire

Oxford Mail: Gritter lorries get ready to set out last night

2:17pm Sunday 23rd November 2014

OXFORDSHIRE is set for a cold snap tonight and tomorrow with temperatures as low as -2C expected in some parts of the county.

Have you seen missing 23-year-old Kerri Hutt from Witney?

Oxford Mail:

11:51am Sunday 23rd November 2014

A WOMAN from Witney has been missing since Friday.

Attack in Oxford city centre leaves two men needing hospital treatment

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

6:24pm Saturday 22nd November 2014

TWO men were assaulted in Oxford city centre last weekend.

What have our brilliant columnists said this week - choose your favourite in our interactive collage

Oxford Mail:

4:00pm Saturday 22nd November 2014

Just what have our thought-provoking columnists been writing about this week? Catch up with our interactive collage giving you a choice from 9 of the best

Our interactive spread of the week's best photos: but what are the stories behind the pictures

Oxford Mail:

3:00pm Saturday 22nd November 2014

We've had some wonderful pictures this week - here's our interactive spread with links to the stories behind the photos

Oxfordshire callers to police's 101 number urged to stay on line amid problems

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:19am Saturday 22nd November 2014

Callers to the police's non-emergency 101 number are being urged to stay on the line despite problems.

Brainpower is the key for Oxford United says head coach Michael Appleton

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 22nd November 2014

Michael Appleton says Oxford United will need to be intelligent if they are to keep heavyweight striker Adebayo Akinfenwa quiet for AFC Wimbledon today.

6 things you may not have known were happening in Oxfordshire this weekend

Oxford Mail: Terry Wogan at the fund raising reception

11:34am Friday 21st November 2014

Six things you may not have known were happening in Oxfordshire this weekend.

Hanborough primary school among region's best

Oxford Mail: Magdalen College School Antiques Roadshow

8:30am Saturday 22nd November 2014

A state primary school in Long Hanborough has been included in a list of the top schools in the South East.

Teacher denies abuse

Oxford Mail: Oxford Crown Court

8:30am Saturday 22nd November 2014

A 70-year-old former teacher has denied historical sexual abuse offences.

Drug dealer tried to run away from police

Oxford Mail: Oxford Crown Court

8:30am Saturday 22nd November 2014

A DRUG dealer who tried to run away from police was jailed yesterday at Oxford Crown Court.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree