Tag Archives: Gibbs Crescent

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

Oxford University’s Old Power Station is a dangerous place

Old Power Station

AFTER the recent explosion in Gibbs Crescent, following hard on the discovery of dangerous seeds the week before, I decided to exercise my rights under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act and ask the University what is stored in the Old Power Station (OPS).

The OPS is a stone’s throw if you’ve got a pitcher’s arm from Mill Street. I’d say the University’s reply is more than equivocal – you can read it here – and it does confirm the place contains many dangerous substances, including the fascinating element we now call Mercury.

Still, to look on the bright side, the University doesn’t have any radio isotypes stored in there.  It probably has asbestos though.  Ruskin used to hold its annual exhibition in there. I wonder if Ruskin College was informed about the dangers of “falling masonry” which prompted the University to obtain a pretty fast anti-squatting order?  

The Valentine’s Day massacre near Mill Street, Oxford

IT HARDLY seems a week ago that I was having a wee in Mill Street when a massive explosion made me almost evacuate myself.

One poor soul, whoever it may be, was killed by the explosion that toppled a three storey house and other houses nearby will have to be demolished too.

The first big explosion happened at 16:45 and was soon followed by a series, a very regular series, of smaller explosions.

All credit to the emergency services – within 10 minutes a fleet of fire engines, ambulances and police cars shattered the normally quiet atmosphere (some mistake?) of this quiet backwater (eh? Ed.)

The fallout from the explosion’s been considerable.  Quite a number of the folk living in Gibbs Crescent have had to have been re-housed, all over the shop.

We suppose that Gibbs Crescent was probably a council estate until HMG mandated that they should all be sold off to either the tenants or to a Housing Association – in this case an outfit called Dominion.

There’s a considerable degree of community spirit here in Mill Street – it’s one of the things I like about living here.  Everyone, OK not quite everyone, chips in.

Shame the Kite has temporarily closed its doors until it re-opens as the Porterhouse sometime in the summer – it would have been nice for folk to gather there – that is if they could have got into Mill Street.

They couldn’t because of the police cordon as the emergency geezers struggled to contain the catastrophe.