Making sense of Oxford's growing population

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

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:

COMMONWEALTH GAMES: It's Rivers of gold for Dan

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 30th July 2014

Shooter Dan Rivers said it was an amazing feeling to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal at Glasgow 2014.

What is causing a bit of a stink - Nasty whiff hangs over city and county

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 30th July 2014

ITS VILE smell has nauseated residents and baffled officials.

Molly’s the face of our city’s fight to find cure for cancer

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 30th July 2014

CANCER survivor Molly Crawford is today launching a new campaign to fund more scientific research in the city.

Driver and biker face bans for 100+mph speeds

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Wednesday 30th July 2014

A CAR driver was clocked doing 109mph and a motorcyclist caught doing 108mph on a busy road south of Oxford.

Film aims to make Banbury the town of the living dead

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Wednesday 30th July 2014

A VIRUS raising the dead and triggering a worldwide apocalypse is to be unleashed in Banbury.

Drivers facing queues on the A34 due to roundabout works

Oxford Mail: A34 traffic alert

7:38am Wednesday 30th July 2014

DRIVERS this morning will face queues again on the A34, with traffic starting to stack back south of Kennington.

Youngsters go wild in homage to a classic tale

Oxford Mail:

7:30am Wednesday 30th July 2014

APHRA Hiscock, 15, is going wild at Oxford’s Story Museum this week.

Update: Missing man David Goodwin found

Oxford Mail:

7:24am Wednesday 30th July 2014

MISSING man David Goodwin has been found, police have said this morning.

Blenheim may sell off housing land to fund £40m conservation bill

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Wednesday 30th July 2014

THE owner of Blenheim Palace is considering selling land to cover a £40m maintenance bill.

Child seat saves baby in M40 crash

Oxford Mail:

6:40am Wednesday 30th July 2014

A BABY survived a crash on the M40 yesterday thanks to his car seat being correctly fitted, the fire service has said.

Oxford Tube sorry for deaf passenger's 'humiliation'

Oxford Mail:

6:40am Wednesday 30th July 2014

A BUS company is investigating one of its drivers after a deaf woman claimed she was “humiliated” on a journey to Oxford.

With no running water, £328,000 cottage is a real fixer-upper

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Wednesday 30th July 2014

WITH the housing market booming, it’s not surprising a pretty cottage sparked a fierce bidding war and sold for thousands of pounds over guide price at auction.

UPDATE: Man with tuberculosis goes missing in Oxford

Oxford Mail:

8:24pm Tuesday 29th July 2014

A 49-year-old man with a contagious disease has gone missing.

Death of more than 4,000 fish in Didcot linked to cleaning chemical

Oxford Mail:

3:42pm Tuesday 29th July 2014

THE death of more than 4,000 fish in a Didcot stream has been linked to some kind of cleaning chemical or detergent.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

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