Last Wednesday Oxfordshire County Council invited members of the public to offer their opinion on whether St Hilda’s College’s application to hold civil marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations on its premises should be accepted.
During this period of public consultation, people will be able to view the full application and plans at the Oxfordshire Register Office in Tidmarsh Lane from Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) until 31st December.
If the application is successful, St Hilda’s will join St Edmund Hall, Mansfield College and the Bodleian Library who can already hold civil marriages and civil partnerships ceremonies on their premises.
St Hilda’s Domestic Bursar Gerri Cane told Cherwell of the College’s decision to apply for the civil marriage and civil partnership license, “We already hold receptions at the College; the application for a licence seemed a natural progression from that as one or two couples had asked if we provided this service.
“Our chapel is very small and so we could only consider that for very small groups wanting religious ceremonies.”
She also added that all weddings and civil partnerships would abide by St Hilda’s current policy with regard to receptions being outside out of term time and usually outside of the working week.
Oxfordshire County Council have invited members of the public to comment on whether St Hilda’s should be awarded this license in accordance with “The Registrar General’s guidance for the approval of premises as venues for civil marriages and civil partnerships”.
The legal guidance states “As soon as is practicable after receiving the application authorities are required to publicisethe application for a period of 21 days. This can be through placing an advertisement in a local newspaper [or] publishing notice of the application on the authority’s website.”
Head of Registration, Coroner’s & Music Services at Oxford Register Office Jacquie Bugeja was keen to underline that this period of public consultation was common legal practice, although the Council has progressed in how it chooses to publicise the application.
She commented, “This is a requirement that has been in place since the regulations came into effect in 1996. We have in the past placed a notice in a local newspaper but more recently have placed it on our website.”
Cane told Cherwell she was supportive of the public being able to offer their views on the College’s application.
She declared, “With regard to the decision to allow the public to offer their views on the application, this is an accepted part of any licence application, including- for example- when an application is made for a premises licence, and I am fully supportive of the public’s right to offer their views and comments.”
History Undergraduate Flora Raybould likewise supported both the public’s right to comment on the application and the application itself.
She said, “I’m so pleased that Oxford colleges are willing to embrace civil marriages and civil partnerships. I really hope that lots more colleges will follow suit and show interest in applying for similar licenses.”
“I also believe it’s really important that the public get a chance to look at the plans; not just as a legal requirement, but so that the local community have a say as to what’s happening in their town and the university that’s part of it.”
Anyone wishing to object to the application can write to Oxford Register Office stating the reasons why they object within the declared period. Although Bugeja also told Cherwell that she was not aware of the Council ever receiving an objection in the past.