Colin Cook! Congratulations!

We have a new Lord Mayor! 

 

Kristen Godfrey’s Navanath article

It’s here, PDF uploaded.  ♦

NAVA NATHA A NEW NATH HISTORY PDF (2)

Oxford’s Philoharmonic has a brand new bag

Since I’ve been – so to speak – marooned in Oxford –  I’ve taken a keen interest in the proceedings. I mean, it’s so cultural unless you get stuck in Marston, Blackbird Leys or other rather poor and deprived spots, like Gibbs Crescent in the world famous City of Screaming Squires.

As all the few readers of Volesoft.com know, I am a lover of music, or maybe
music loves me.  I love words, or maybe words love me. So I was interested to get a missive from the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra – I’ve seen some lovely bands there in posh surroundings with some famous names on it (pictured).  Long may the music play! I hope the Orchestra doesn’t mind me publicising it on this bog! It’s a marvellous orchestra with some wonderful and famous names.  Some even have to have the same surname, like the amusingly named Sir Victor Blank. Go see them play! 

Old Power Station plans show future is in boxes

The Said Business School (SBS) held consultations last Friday and Saturday on its future plans to redevelop the Old Power Station in Oxford to transform it into a conference centre and plush accommodation for executives and MBAs.

Unfortunately, Friday and Saturday here in Oxford were affected by snow and bitterly cold weather.

We asked about the consultation and a representative from the SBS said: “Given the difficulty caused by the weather we are planning to offer an additional date for people to view the boards and have the opportunity to feedback on proposals. The exact date has to be confirmed but we will give notice to the community. Let me come back to you in the next couple of days with details.”

In the meantime, details of the plans can be found here. Those plans include detailed views of the proposals, including plans to mitigate disruption to the local community on both sides of the river.  

Oxford’s Old Power Station to get poshed up

A missive from the egregious Said Business School (SBS)is holding a “consultation” on the future of the Old Power Station, on the Thames, just a slingshot away from Mill Street.

The message, in a bottle, is reproduced below.

But there are things the SBS doesn’t say, as well as things it does say, with implications for the original inhabitants of Old Osney Island, that’s us folk on Arthur Street, Mill Street and the rest.

The towering edifice was used in times of yore to test Concorde engines and then to host exhibits from the Ruskin.  Then there was a health scare because it seemed to hold rare chemicals and stuff stored away.

Then a possibly dangerous harpoon was found, it seems. And squatters were evicted.

The SBS didn’t really respond to FOI requests, I think you’ll find.

Anyway, the document issued for the consultation, below, said SBS is pushing ahead with a proposal offering “bespoke conferencing facilities. It doesn’t say what the impact on the area will be, how many bricks will go, and how the poor people on Arthur Street will feel about huge lorries making a right turn from there past Kite 2.0, also known as the Porterhouse now and the effect it will have on both Mill Street and the Botley Road.

Hey, I guess we residents will have the chance to forewarn the planners ahead of the “conference”. It’s all about the regeneration of West Oxford, you know.   

Frideswide Square – so good they fixed it thrice

Residents of Mill Street had a missive from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) in early February headed “improvements at Frideswide Square” and penned by Owen Jenkins, the grandly named director for infrastructure delivery.

You can find the details of the seven week scheme to repair Frideswide Square at this link, – although you won’t find the letter, I don’t think.

West Oxford is being “regenerated” and some people might think that’s a good thing – certainly house prices here in Mill Street continue to  go through the roof.

Owen said, in his billet doux, that cyclists will “benefit” from “new dropped kerbs” while OCC is is providing “tactile paving” for “visually impaired users” at all crossing points.

Now, here’s the thing. Pedestrians and motorists don’t really know whether people or cars have any right of way, so people don’t know whether these “crossing points” are safe.

Owen is, no doubt, too young to remember this, but in the 1930s  Hore Belisha (pictured, above) had a bright idea to put lights and stripes on roads – “zebra crossings” – and introduced the driving test. The “crossing points” at Frideswide Square don’t have any stripes so we are all taking a bit of a risk, or maybe “dicing with death”.

Why does that matter? Well, because the square is close to the railway station and also funnels a considerable amount of motor traffic into Oxford using the already congested Botley Road, motorists and pedestrians unfamiliar with the weirdness have every chance of being confused by what’s going on. Even us local residents are confuseniks.

The scheme starts on the 11th of February and finishes on the 23rd of March 2018, if we’re lucky. 

Gibbs Crescent, Oxford – it’s the nightmare on Mill Street!

Blossom in Oxford in Spring

On the 14th of February this year, at 4:45 PM, a  huge explosion hit West Oxford.

I was in the wazzeria at the time, but the explosion was so great my windows bowed and I almost evacuated myself. I didn’t. I finished my wee and checked things out.

It seems some crazy greezer had blown up a house in Gibbs Crescent. He killed himself with the explosion – luckily no one else – and we’re waiting for the inquest to give us some rhyme or reason. And have been waiting for some time now. For the inquest.

I have some friends down in Gibbs Crescent, so have been following this closely.  Susanna Pressel and Colin Cook, the local Labour councillors, have involved themselves and got their faces in the Oxford Mail.

But, although I am by nature an anarcho-syndicalist – read trade unionist and NUJ member for that, I thought I’d drop a line to our newly elected LibDem MP – that Layla Moran – who seems to have pursued this story in an exemplary way. I draw your attention, for example, to the almost complete lack of social housing she highlights, and to the big big question.

When A2Dominion “rehouses” the Gibb Crescent residents, where are they going to go? ♥

Ms Moran wrote to me on Friday:

“Dear Mike

“Further to our previous correspondence, and particularly focusing on Gibbs Crescent, I have now received responses from Dawn Wightman, Director of Housing for A2Dominion, and Patsy Dell, Head of Planning Services at Oxford City Council.

“Ms Wightman confirms that any plans to redevelop Gibbs Crescent would include 50% affordable housing, consisting mostly of 1 and 2 bed apartments with some 3 bed properties.  She has not indicated what proportion of these affordable properties would have social rents.  The properties are described as being significantly larger than those currently at Gibbs Crescent, but A2Dominion do not confirm how many of the new homes would be 1 bed.

“A2Dominion have also outlined a number of the benefits that they feel the redevelopment of Gibbs Crescent could bring, though have not indicated what assurances they intend to provide existing tenants.

“Ms Dell confirms that Oxford City Council has not yet had any detailed preapplication discussions with A2Dominion regarding proposals to redevelop Gibbs Crescent.  I understand that officers at the Council held a meeting with A2Dominion, in which they discussed the need for public consultation on any proposals, but that by early December the Council had not had any follow up to this meeting.

“One of the issues Gibbs Crescent residents have raised with me is the serious shortage of social housing available in Oxford.  In light of this, I asked Ms Dell to confirm how many social properties are currently available for let.  She has replied that out of 7746 Oxford City Council properties and 3753 housing association properties, there are only 14 currently advertised as being available to let, with 2858 households currently on the housing register.

“I share the concern expressed by many Gibbs Crescent residents that these proposals would reduce the stock of social housing available in Oxford, rather than increasing it as is needed, and appreciate the impact that redeveloping Gibbs Crescent could have on existing tenants, including those who have lived there for many years.

“I hope that this information is useful.  I will continue to pursue these issues with the Council and A2Dominion, and will share any updates I receive with you.

“Kind regards,
Layla”

Layla Moran MP
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon
Layla Moran
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon