Is it possible that Oxfordshire County Council are taking notice of the complaints about street clutter and trying to cut it down? Probably not, but let’s grab the chance to show what part of Oxford looks like when some at least of the signs come down.
The first photograph below was taken about a year ago at the junction by the Randolph Hotel. We see two enormous matching notices obscuring the view of Balliol College behind. There is a roundel showing a motor-bike jumping over a car, an essay describing the exceptions to the prohibition, and a 20 mph sign.
These signs remained like this until last week, although one them recently had an additional notice about camera enforcement of bus lanes which was, curiously, down at knee-height.
Here is much the same view this morning. The left hand of the two signs has gone. Just that one removal tranforms the scene.
We have, it is true, acquired a shiny new sign to the north of this view, a replacement for an older and smaller one. Perhaps the reduction of signs in the view above is some sort of atonement for that.
I doubt it. The eager little pushers of pens at Oxfordshire Highways live and breathe signs. It is how they show they are doing something; it uses up budget, and a man is not a man in a local authority highways department until he has spent more money than the pigmy down the corridor. I have reported elsewhere that the works presently gumming up Oxford’s High Street are proudly described by Oxfordshire Highways as including the removal of street clutter – and, they add without obvious irony, the addition of some lights and barriers. Not clutter at all then.
So where has the pole gone? My guess is that a motorist drove into it trying to read all the bloody signs, and that it will be back soon.
There is another reason pointing to this conclusion but one I will keep to myself for a while.