A letter under the title Oxford desecrated appeared in the Times of 19 May. The writer refers to the honeyed rhythm, curve, quality and dramatic punctuation of the High and says:
The road itself is not a smooth surface sending the eye to the gorgeous gold of the stone, but a pock-marked way, cluttered with signs, part-barriers and the other detritus of modern traffic management. It is as if some monstrous urban planner has, with calm deliberation, set upon a path of destruction. And it is impossible to believe that any other great city would visit such horrors on such beauty.
He wonders if we could engage some Oxford minds on the subject.
We do not, of course, have minds of any sort amongst the highways planners of Oxfordshire County Council. I don’t suppose the the knuckle-draggers there read the Times (all those syllables!), and they are quite unaware of what they are ruining anyway.
Indeed, one of them wrote recently to the Oxford Times making it quite clear that this affection for beautiful streetscapes was quite beyond him – see Oxfordshire transport head on High horse.
Subsequent letters on 20 May applauded the originator of the correspondence, one pointing out that the city council is pursuing a scheme of building a huge new development of shops for which it has provided no new scheme of traffic management that does not bring more vehicles, especially buses, into the centre. That is the Westgate Centre redevelopment and the rest of the West End development where a combination of greedy developers, useless planning officers and supine councillors is about to throw up a monstrous set of developments which pay no regard to the fact that there is nowhere for the workers and shoppers to live and no provision (as the letter points out) for the increased traffic. If we are in the hands of Oxfordshire County Council’s transport officers (who are as uselessly incompetent as they are visually unaware) the venture will add immeasurably to Oxford’s traffic problems.
A further letter of 21 May refers, curiously, to the benefit of the Oxford Transport Strategy, a £20 million spending spree by highways officers who took as their guiding principle that if you screw up the traffic flow enough, people will go elsewhere to do their shopping.
I can tolerate their incompetence rather better than their vandalism.