18th December

Marston 'rat-run' fines - Should more roads be included?

THE threat of fines for drivers 'rat-running' down an access-only street has been welcomed by residents who are tired of living with the problem.

A police operation targetting motorists who use Elms Drive in Marston as a cut through has already had an impact, according to those who live there.

Now councillor for the area Mick Haines wants the force to look at other problem streets in his ward and consider whether something similar could be introduced elsewhere.

All drivers using the road without stopping were given warning letters by the neighbourhood team and told to expect £50 on-the-spot fines if they continue to flout the law.

Mr Haines said he had heard repeated complaints from residents about the impact of the rat-runners.

Which other Oxford streets have a big problem with 'rat-running'? Let us know HERE and we'll investigate

He said: "It makes life quite hard for people, it really does need something done about it.

"We have a lot of kids who live around here and if they were to step out and get hit, they would be in trouble.

"There are two or three roads in Marston that are the same.

"I live on Croft Road and I know we have cars flying around the corner sometimes.

"I'd like to see more measures like this introduced."

The problems in Elms Drive have been made worse by the long-running roadworks on the Headley Way roundabout, with commuters using the street to travel between Marsh Lane and Cherwell Drive without having to go over the congested junction.

Tim Cooper, who has lived on Elms Drive for four years, said there was 'gridlock' when Marsh Lane was closed for resurfacing but also that the issues with rat runners pre-date the works starting.

He said: "I think it is a problem. Drivers who do not live here will run through quite quickly even though there's a 20 mile per hour limit.

"Kids crossing the road aren't always expecting people to come speeding around the corner.

"I have seen the police out at the end of the road over the last few weeks.

"I think it might make a difference, it'll deter people from coming down here."

But neighbour Mary Searle, who lives with her husband, said she had sympathy for drivers, given the amount of congestion in the area recently.

She said: "I think it might be a bit excessive if they are just using it to go from A to B.

"With all the works going on I don't think you can expect much else.

"We've certainly noticed a lot more traffic on the street than normal but it's a short term thing and will be better once it is all back to normal."

2nd November

Somerset pub in Marston could reopen after takeover bid

AN OXFORD-based pub company has stepped in to attempt to save a sorely-missed local.

Three years after pints were last poured in the Somerset in Marston Road, the brains behind Jericho’s Rickety Press and East Oxford’s Rusty Bicycle has launched a bid to reopen it.

Dodo Pub Company, which runs the popular gastropubs, has confirmed it is negotiations to take over at the Somerset.

The firm is understood to be in the final stages of agreeing a deal and will submit a licensing application on Monday.

Marston residents who have campaigned tirelessly to save the building - the last pub in the area - are now anxiously awaiting the contract being finalised before celebrations can begin.

READ MORE: 'Pop-up pub' shows big support for boozer 

Co-organiser of the Save our Somerset campaign Wendy Twist, said: “We know the owner has agreed to lease the building to a pub company, and keep it as a pub.

“Dodo is in negotiations. Nothing is 100 per cent confirmed - we’re not counting our chickens yet - but it’s obviously very hopeful.”

If a contract is agreed, the pub could be open again early in the new year.

Supporters have been emailed an update with details about what Dodo could do with the building.

Taking a similar approach to their existing pubs, the Somerset would have a ‘relaxed but upbeat’ atmosphere, opening from 8am every day for breakfast.

It would only offer live music on special occasions but run a regular programme of other events which could include pub quizzes and farmers markets.

Food could include wood-fired pizzas and a full menu of small bites, salads and burgers as well as breakfast and brunch.

Councillor for the area Mick Haines, who used to play for the pub’s darts team, said it was ‘fantastic news’.

He added: “I think it’s the best outcome we could have wished for.

“People have been fighting for it all along, we have all stuck together and have never given up.

“We’ve proved how much demand there is and I’m sure it will be a big success.”

The Somerset closed in 2014 and has sat empty ever since – one of 15 pubs to have shut in the city in a decade.

The building was mooted as an Islamic Cultural Centre in March but hundreds have since attended pop up pub events in an attempt to show how well-used a pub in that area would be.

15th December

Memorial bench unveiled for popular Oxford figure Billy Munnelly

Billy Munnelly memorial bench service in Marston Family and friends gather as Memorial bench and tree are blessed (Pic: Richard Cave)

A CROWD turned out to see a memorial bench unveiled in memory of a popular city figure.

Billy Munnelly, who died in July 2017, played a big part in Oxford’s Gaelic football and Aunt Sally scenes. He was 70.

He also raised thousands of pounds for good causes and city councillor Mick Haines was keen to see his legacy marked.

Mr Haines paid for a memorial bench and a white willow tree, both of which are now based at the Croft Road Recreation Ground in Marston.

Mr Munnelly moved to Oxford in the 1960s and was a regular figure at the Cowley Workers Social Club.

Marston independent councillor Mr Haines, Mr Munnelly’s brother and BBC Radio Oxford presenter Henry Wymbs all attended the ceremony.

12th October

New memorial bench nods to late Oxford Irishman Billy Munnelly

THE memory of 'one of the best known Irishmen in Oxford' will forever live on in Marston, Oxford, as a memorial bench is unveiled.

Billy Munnelly died in July 2017, age 70, but was known to many for playing a huge part in Gaelic football and Aunt Sally in the city.

He came to Oxford as a teenager in the 1960s and was involved with the Eire Og Oxford Irish Gaelic football and hurling club for more than 50 years.

He also raised thousands of pounds for charitable causes over the years and as such became a well-known face to many in Oxford.

Now his memory has been sealed in the very foundations of the city as a memorial bench has been put up in Marston.

Oxford City councillor Mick Haines has been calling for the bench to be installed in a nod to the late Irishman.

The bench now stands proudly in Croft Road Recreation Ground, in Croft Road.

2nd October

Councillor's resignation call rejected


Following an investigation, Ben Lloyd-Shogbesan was found not to be acting as a councillor when he shared posts which claimed cancer was a ‘business’ and compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

He resigned the Labour Party whip after the posts came to light in May and he remains an independent councillor.

His former group leader Susan Brown said it was time for councillors to find it within themselves to forgive him because he had apologised and ‘had promised to learn from [his] mistakes’.

She was responding to a motion from independent councillor Mick Haines, who urged Mr Lloyd-Shogbesan to resign following the investigation. Mr Haines’ wife died from cancer last year.

Ms Brown said she ‘shared the dismay’ felt by Mr Haines when the posts were uncovered.

But an investigation found the council’s code of conduct had not been breached.

Mr Haines’ motion was backed by Lib Dem councillor Paul Harris, who said the comments on cancer were an ‘intolerable insult’ to Oxford scientists working to cure the disease.

Mr Harris said he had received life-saving surgery for cancer.

Mr Haines’ motion was lost, with seven councillors supporting it. Another 25 were opposed and five councillors abstained.



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