Tag Archives: colin cook

Oxford Lord Mayor once snapped his tendon

RISK TAKER Colin Cook, the Mayor of the city of the Screaming Squires, revealed today that he had once snapped his tendon walking through the city.

The news came as he rounded on a kid who scaled the heights, as you can read here in the always pulsating Oxford Mail.

Best not to take too many risks, eh Colin?  You might snap a tendon. Or end up as a Lord Mayor.

 

Gibbs Crescent: we get the lowdown and the highdown too

So today we took ourselves to St Frideswide’s Kirk, on the Botley Road, the one that couldn’t afford to build a spire although it tried to crowdfund it back in the daze. We’d never been inside before. (See footnote after the pictures – Ed.)

We only knew there was a public consultation there this evening because we’d seen a flyer in our letterbox in Mill Street from massive housing association A2Dominion last week – there was no notice outside of the kirk, either.

Regular readers of this bog will remember that Mike Magee almost evacuated himself when he heard the explosion on St Valentine’s Day (please excuse picture).

Anyway, here below are pictures of the project that A2Dominion plans to replace and displace the current residents of Gibbs Crescent. A2D officials referred to the residents being “decanted”, which is a new one on us for people.

Once the residents have been “decanted”, which could take as long as six months or longer, A2D will set in motion an application for planning permission, for 140 units on the site, some going as high as six stories, with space for only a few car spaces for wheelchair access.

Some of the properties will be dedicated to social housing – as far as we can gather it’s a portion of the 50 percent of the properties that will be “affordable” housing. The rest of the non-affordable properties will be let. An A2D functionary said any profits will be ploughed back into the housing association. The whole process could take three or more years until completion.

Unfortunately, no plans are available from A2D on the World Wild Web (sic) and there were no handouts, so we took these snaps below. If you have any questions, A2D will be glad to answer them. Email Claire Bartlett – claire.bartlette@a2dominion.co.uk at A2D by Thursday, the 27th of September, the year of our Good Lord! 2018.

The redevelopment of Gibbs Crescent, of course, will further gentrify West Oxford, init?

And due to the redevelopment of the Old Oxford Power Station, there will be much trundling to and fro in the narrow Victorian street called Mill Street over the next few years, and of course the Botley Road too will, as usual, be free of traffic.

We believe that St Frideswide, the patron saintess of Oxford, and her kirk was probably based on a pagan goddess called Freya or Frigga or something. But that’s all lost in the past. Don’t mention Pusey!!!

Here at volesoft.com, we’re talking about the future. The future of Gibbs Crescent, one of the few – if any – social housing communities left in the centre of Oxford, hangs in the balance. One source at A2D whispered – of course off the record – that many of the residents will be glad to leave the centre of the City.

With a little help from their friends, of course.

Colin Cook! Congratulations!

We have a new Lord Mayor! 

 

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