Monthly Archives: November 2014

Port Meadow: lop a storey off

Port Meadow campaignIn a heady cocktail of sheer stupidity and egregious incompetence, Oxford City Council and Oxford University managed to blot the Oxford landscape by building six five storey blocks on the edge of Port Meadow.

Unfortunately for functionaries at both organisations, people at The Save Port Meadow Campaign and the CPRE managed to raise enough cash to force a retrospective environmental impact assessment – that was released in October 2014 and includes the following:

“It is considered that the high adverse impact on the high veritage value sites can only be reduced to medium adverse by the reduction in height of all the buildings under the option three mitigation measures.”

The four landscapes in question are Port Meadow itself, St Barnabas Church, the view of the famous “screaming spires” of the university and the River Thames and towpath.

The three options for mitigation are (1) use brick cladding and trees – cost £6 million; (2) flatten the roofs with cladding and trees – £11 million; and (3) remove a floor off each of the buildings – cost £12 million.

The campaign says that both the university and the council are being skinflints and want the cheapest option.  As the campaigners say: “They want to minimise the embarrassment of their negligence in building the Port Meadow blocks, and also the cost and incnvenience.”

In 2011 the University said: “It has been concluded that the development will not be visible from the majority of Port Meadow.”  A Mr Murray Hancock, a planning functionary at the Council, said: “It gives rise to some impacts but these are not significant.”

The campaign says there are various things people can do:

(1) Write to your city councillor.
(2) Email the City Council consultation at planning@oxford.gov.uk by the 19th December using the ref 11/02881/FUL telling them why option 3 is acceptable.
(3) Go to the meeting held at 7:30PM on the 4th of December 2014 at St Barnabas Church, Cardigan Street, Jericho

You can also donate by going to www.justgiving.com/portmeadow ♣

Oxford City Council delays FOI requests

Through a glass, darkly

Unusually, in our experience, the normally *very* transparent Oxford City Council has decided to delay replying to two FOI (freedom of information)  requests and so is potentially breaking the law.

On the 14th of October 2014, we asked about Oxford’s surveillance of peoples’ bins after we got a snottogram from a functionary – you can read our request here.

Then, being sort of IT biased, we made a request of the cost of IT during the calendar year 2013. That request has been delayed too. You can read that request here.

Finally, we asked Oxford City Council the cost of hiring IT firm Capita to try and cut down the number of people claiming a 25 percent discount because they live alone.  We received a letter from said Capita saying if we didn’t reply, Oxford City Council reserved the right to knock off the discount. Fortunately, the letter was in 14 point Tahoma, so we could just about read it with a magnifying glass.

We haven’t had a response to that question either.

Transparency, through a glass darkly.  We have emailed the City Council meisters in charge of the requests.  Maybe they haven’t had the influenza immunization yet.