Mick Haines hands the petition in at Number 10


Subway appeal goes to Downing Street

6:08pm Monday 13th July 2009


A COMMUNITY leader has taken his battle to save a much-loved Oxford subway all the way to 10 Downing Street.

Oxfordshire County Council is set to fill in the popular Headington subway as part of the second phase of a £3m scheme to tackle traffic congestion in London Road.

The improvements mean the 1970s subway will be closed at a cost of £45,000 and replaced with a pedestrian crossing.

Yesterday, Mick Haines took a 2,411-signature petition to Number 10 to try to save the Kennett Road underpass. Work to fill it in will not start until next year at the earliest.

Mr Haines, 68, of Croft Road said: “The fight will go on to save the subway and I hope this has some impact.

“The people of Headington want to keep it because it’s an asset from a safety point of view.

“Also it is a part of Headington’s history and if they take it away they are taking part of Headington away.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous. Why would you want to get rid of something that’s worked for so many years and provided safety?”

A survey by Headington city councillor David Rundle revealed 61 per cent of residents were in favour of keeping the subway and he says it should be kept alongside a new crossing.

But the county council said its survey showed that 58 per cent of Headington residents were in favour of scrapping it when they realised there would be a replacement crossing.

County engineer Colin Baird said at a meeting earlier this month that the current subway would not be permitted under modern building standards as the ramps are too steep for people with mobility problems.

He said it would be impossible to accommodate both crossings without an expensive rejig of the first phase of the scheme.

There have been 40 road accidents involving pedestrians crossing London Road over the last five years.

County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: "The replacement high-quality pelican crossing will provide everybody with a safe way of getting over the road as many people choose not to use the subway currently. Crossings in Oxford have an excellent safety record and the subway's ramps present a hazard in wet or icy weather.”

Downing Street spokesman Derek Smith said: “We are going to ask the Department of Communities and Local Government to respond.”


Phone masts net £236,000

6:30am Monday 19th October 2009


OXFORDSHIRE County Council is making almost £200,000 a year renting out schools and fire stations as locations for mobile phone masts.

Figures obtained by the Oxford Mail reveal phone companies have installed equipment across the county to extend their coverage.

Oxford City Council also makes £42,750 a year renting out space on four of the city’s five tower blocks – Windrush, Plowman, Hockmore and Foresters.

Last night, a campaigner against phone masts urged the council to rethink its policy.

Mick Haines, of Croft Road, Marston, Oxford, said the dangers of placing phone masts near schools had never been disproved.

Kidlington Fire Station is home to Vodaphone, T-Mobile and O2 masts and earns the council £19,680.

Matthew Arnold School in Arnolds Way, Oxford, is leased to Orange, O2 and T-Mobile and brings in £17,500.

Overall, the county council makes £193,500 a year.

Mr Haines has protested against masts for the past decade and collected more than 3,000 signatures on three different petitions.

He said: “I don’t like the sound of these figures – phone masts should be nowhere near residential areas.

“The dangers of phone masts have never been proved but, more importantly, they have never been disproved. We just don’t know.

“Fifty years ago we were all smoking 20 cigarettes a day and lining our homes and businesses with asbestos. It’s only now we are aware of the dangers.”

Mr Haines said the council should find other places to put them. He said: “I appreciate they bring in money, but the negatives certainly outweigh the positives. These masts should be moved away from built-up areas. That way we can be absolutely sure nobody is going to be hurt. We just can’t take the risk.”

Council spokesman Owen Morton said: “Any installation of this nature has to meet international regulations on radiation emissions. All the money generated from these contracts is directed into council services and in the case of schools, the funds go directly into the school budget.”

O2 spokesman Jim Stevenson said there was “no evidence” that phone masts were harmful.

He said: “In the past year we have undertaken a massive amount of scientific research in all areas relating to this, and in every case it has produced a firm reassurance that there is no risk from phone masts of mobile phones.

“There is no harm at all in relation to people’s health and safety, or indeed that of their children.

“We continually monitor the effects of phone masts and will, of course, continue to do so.”



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