Tag Archives: oxford mail

Oxford publican complains about price of beer

A MAN who runs a pub in North Oxford has moaned about the price of beer.

We only know that because Thursday’s copy of the Oxford Mail tipped up late last night.

Andrew Hall, of the Rose & Crown, a public house in North Parade, complained that the so-called “beer escalator” is ruining his business. He, and a handful of others with an axe to grind, are heading to the House of Commoners next week to “lobby” MPs.

Rose and Crown, OxfordThe very fragrant Nicola Blackwood (Conservative) is his local member of parliament. Oh and ours here in Mill Street, too.

In other news, yesterday’s Oxford Mail falsely reported the “electrical calamity” that afflicted Mill Street the other day, that we reported here on Volesoft Oxford.  It said the power went down at 7PM while our electrical oven reported it happened in the middle of the night, something verified by the locals and by the Giant Badger of Mill Street.

We are still waiting for today’s Oxford Mail. Perhaps it will tip up tomorrow. Or maybe not…  The Kite, in Mill Street, offers good nosh and the beers are good too and cheap as chips.

Electrical calamity hits Mill Street

WE WONDERED WHY, as we wended our way downstairs at first faded  light why electrical clocks were winking at us, saying “help!”.

Apparently there was an electrical emergency last night – we is suffering from a novovirus so we is a bit dead to the world.

The stove said 1:29AM  but apparently at the end of the road, there was a bit of an explosion and a manhole (who he?) rose out of the road. The power got cut. It got cold. Regular readers of this bog will remember that Oxford Uni contractors cut off our gas by mistake, and one of the contractors lit a cig until we screamed at him a bit.

Anyway, we have reset our clocks and we are all waiting for an apology which of course we will not get.

Oxford “toilet man” hits out at British press


COUNCILLOR JOHN TANNER (Lab), famous for pronouncements earlier this year that claimed part of the reason tourists from all over the world visit Oxford because of its “world beating” public conveniences (bogs), has written a letter to the Oxford Mail, having a go at the British press and David Cameron.

Tanner, who sports the fancy title of Board Member for a Cleaner, Greener Oxford, said in the letter that he wants a free press that will investigate the rich and powerful, and to educate and entertain. The Oxford Mail, he writes, has always been fair and honest.  But journalists at the nationals will “dive into the gutter” to get a story.

* Sources tell Volesoft that CoCo – a splendid establishment embedded in the Royal Oxford Hotel but nothing to do with it – will close on the 21st of December.  It has two other establishments in Oxford, another CoCo in the Cowley Road, and the Casbah, on the opposite side of the road.  We will miss the occasional breakfast we have there, but thankfully Mick’s Café is still open. CoCo in West Oxford is likely to become a Korean restaurant.

Lord Leveson lets us boggers off the hook

HIS REVERENCE the Lord O’Leveson of QEII Hall delivered four volumes to the Great British Public last week and in passing mentioned the internet – he devoted about a page to the subject far as we can tell.

2,000 print wallahs in the UK are scrabbling like there is no tomorrow to come up with a voluntary scheme just in case the Muvva of all Parliaments has to pass a law to force them to cooperate.

Naturally, that ignores the dilemma that faces any print publisher, and which we highlighted in the case of the Oxford Mail last time we tapped on this particular keyboard. Print publishers are in denial, and have been since the early 1990s.

Internet publishing has its own challenges, of course; since the convergence of devices few have loyalties to any particular online publication. Heck, we can’t remember the last time we looked at The Rogister or TheINQUIRER.  Our smartphone seems to be a tad more discriminating.





The Oxford Mail fails to deliver

DAILY NEWSPAPER the Oxford Mail (84) is a lively read, but reading it at 5:30PM on the day it’s been delivered is a bit of a problem. Not having it delivered at all on the day it is printed is a bit of a problem, too.

A few weeks back, I decided to take advantage of an offer to have it delivered daily but the distribution is obviously awry, because it is hit and miss whether it arrives at all, it appears.  Distribution is a big problem. As a channel journalist and, according to the Daily Jellygraph the 35th most important IT influencer in the UK cosmos, I am well aware of the problems of print.

The problem of print journalism is one with which I am very familiar. The group that owns the Oxford Mail also publishes a very thick tabloid on Thursdays called the Oxford Times which is packed to the gills with adverts from estate agents but adverts are a bit thin in the daily. It also publishes a magazine called the Banbury Cake, but we won’t go there.

I was, when I took out the subscription to the Oxford Mail, going to pub a little thing every day summarising the daily news in this strange corner of the universe.  But as its distribution is so hit and miss, that hasn’t proved feasible.

The news group is just about to put the price of the daily paper up to 45 pence from its current 42 pence.  But given the fact it can’t even deliver daily, I am seriously pondering whether this printed newspaper really has a future at all.  I fear for the journalists, based just a five minutes walk away from yours truly.  The Oxford MailIf nobody can read their stuff, what’s the point of writing?

Rose & Crown makes it to Oxford Mail

Rose and Crown, OxfordWE NOTE that on page eight of today’s Oxford Mail that the Rose & Crown, which used to be our local hostelry here in Old Oxford Toone, has made it to the top six best pubs for real ale in this tiny city. I am a Kite boy now, though. More here. The same group that published the Ox Mail also publishes a “newspaper” called the Banbury Cake…. It be very rustic round here.

Councillors decide we do need a Big Wall, after all

OXFORD CITY COUNCIL decided today that whether the residents like it or like it not, a big big wall is going to be built at the bottom of our gardens.  The votes went six for, one against, and two abstentions. See this one.

Our own councillor, a councillor Colin  Cook, voted in fave.Well done Colin, for listening to your constituents!

This is what the view from my first floor window looks like right now.

27 Mill Street without the Wall

Here’s an artist’s impression of what the “ingenious building” will look like…

Mill Street: The Wall
Another view: My garden is to the right of the Silver Birch – you can see my clothes pegs.

And here’s the document Amanda Whiting and I were supposed to talk about together. The learned councillors would not let me speak “because I wasn’t on the list”.

“M This major three story monolithic structure will overlook our houses between 16 and 41 on Mill Street.  The fact it will be raised by one metre because it’s being built on a flood plain will make it even more dominating. It will take light from our back gardens and the architecture is utterly out of character with a Victorian street. Mill Street is a terraced street of railwaymens’ cottages and are two storey buildings, regardless of what the developer says. It will also destroy our view of a leafy outlook and the view we will have us peering at the students and the students peering at us.

“A It will also change the nature of the present community, increasing the population of Mill Street by 25 percent, meaning that the proportion of students in the street will be about 50 percent. The Sites and Housing DPD is working towards a policy that limits the number of students in any street in Oxford to much less than this.

“M Just  about everyone living in 16 to 41 and Abbey Walk, as well as people in Barrett Street has written well-argued letters of opposition, which are on the Council website, and I hope that committee members have read them. No-one at all wants this development, especially not at three storeys – it’s a solid wall. The angling of the windows on the proposed plan will not prevent currently leafy and private back gardens being overlooked.  Concerns of residents also include additional traffic, increased noise in the street, rowdyism, light pollution and congestion on an already crowded narrow street for both pedestrians and cars.

“A There’s a strong sense of community here, and some families have lived here for three or four generations. The Bellerby students will be under 18 so won’t otherwise be freeing up family homes. These students would normally be home stay students.

“M A recent  consultation about the preferred options for Oxford development said about the Mill Street development:  “The site would be contrary to the emerging student accommodation location policy as it is not on a main thoroughfare nor within a district or city centre or on an existing teaching campus. The preferred option is therefore not to allocate the site.” In the DPD document it adds that a development here would not be suitable because of the narrow area for the accommodation. It seems crazy that this document should be ignored. In the early 1990s permission for 24 flats was refused but later development of 19 study rooms was approved a decade later but not implemented. How the applicants are suggesting that was a precedent is crazy – 19 study rooms is not the same as 74 study rooms.

“A What do the developers propose to give back to the existing community if this development or a modified development is given planning permission?

“The strip of land is home to shrews, hedgehogs, grass snakes, bats, badgers and a wide range of insects including various species of bumblebee. There are many trees in the area including cherry, fruit and other deciduous trees. The Elfin Group in Oxford consists of six to 10 year olds and the local schoolchildren have been spending a lot of time planting new trees, weeding them and learning how important trees are to the environment.

“The wider democratic issues referred to in Robert Mitchell’s email today, state how West Oxford is a very environmentally friendly area, with much effort and resources going in to preserve and enhance the local environment – we are actively promoting the lowering of carbon emissions, new wildlife areas, many houses being equipped with solar panels etc.  These initiatives run by low carbon West Oxford are generally supported and encouraged by the council and government, nationally. So we wonder what message will the granting of planning permission be giving this community if it approves of these plans??

“With regards to replanting issues, a few stretches of new grasses and ornamental trees is hardly the same as the wild habitat that’s been there for 100 years.

“M To reiterate, the main points are that many houses will be completely overlooked, deprived of light and the percentages of student in the community will be more than the recommended number. You’ll be agreeing to destroy the wild life habitat, and increasing traffic in an already congested and busy area. We urge you to reject this application.”

Most of the councillors didn’t seem very interested at all…. Murray Hancock, chief planner at Oxford City Council is a master of bureaucracy… 

The email of the specious is more deadly than the Mall or Wall

Sure enough, the planners are ploughing ahead with the attempt to hedge us residents of East Mill Street in with an ugly building fit for 74 students of Bellerbys, provided, that is, the UK government allows students with cash into the UK for the purpose of studying.

Objections against the plans are allowed until the 9th of May, so it’s incumbent on us lot to object – that is, if we want to object. The clever developers are attempting to tell us that the overweening wall will protect us from the noise of the railways. There is very little noise from the railways…

Just as a matter of record, below is  the letter I wrote to Murray Hancock, planning officer of Oxford City Council. Others might find it useful.

I have copied it to Susanna Pressel and to Sherriff Colin Cook – councillors for this neck of the woods – and to our MP, Nicola Blackwood.  I would have copied it to Michael Crofton-Briggs, a chief planner at the outfit, but couldn’t find his email on the Oxford City Council web site. The architect, Adrian James, lives in Mill Street but on the western side of the road.

Local newspaper the Oxford Mail has already written a story about our complaint. Here’s my billet doubt (sic) to Murray the Man.

25 April 2011

Murray Hancock
Planning Officer
Oxford City Council
Ramsay House
10 St Ebbe’s
Oxford OX1 1PT

Dear Sir

I am the owner/occupier of 27 Mill Street, OX2 0AJ.

I am writing to express my objection to the planning proposal for ground between Mill Street and the railway – planning reference number 11/00927/FUL.

My objections to the planning proposal centre around Council policy HS19 – Privacy and Amenity, to wit:

”Planning permission will only be granted for development that adequately provides both for the protection, and/or creation, of the privacy or amenity of the occupants of the proposed and existing neighbouring, residential properties. The City Council will assess each development proposal in terms of:

a. potential for overlooking into habitable rooms or private open space;
b. potential for noise intrusion;
c. sense of enclosure, or development of an overbearing nature;
d. refuse and recycling storage;
e. cycle storage;
f. drying space; and
g. sunlight and daylight standards.”

In particular, I am concerned that the development will impact points (a), (c) and (g). Currently my garden is very private and I will feel very hemmed in if this building is allowed to proceed.

At the recent open day when the proposed plans were shown, the developers made the to my mind somewhat specious argument that the development would provide benefits to residents because the building would reduce the noise from the railway.  In fact, as matters stand right now, there is little noise from the railway as most trains are slowing to stop at Oxford Station or slowly leaving the station.

I am also concerned that the development is likely to have a severe impact because most of the existing trees will be destroyed – I understand that only six trees are likely to be kept. I am also concerned about increased traffic on the already congested Mill Street, which is something of a rat run already.

I would appreciate a written reply to my objection. I am copying this letter to councillors Susanna Pressel, Colin Cook and Nicola Blackwood. I would also appreciate the email address of Michael Crofton-Briggs, who I would like to copy in too.

Yours faithfully

Mike Magee