Mick Haines


'I will take subway battle to Downing Street'

6:59pm Thursday 2nd July 2009


A COMMUNITY leader has vowed to take his battle to save an Oxford subway to the very top.

Oxfordshire County Council today agreed to press ahead with its controversial £2.3m scheme to tackle traffic congestion in Headington.

The project aims to improve bus reliability in London Road, improve conditions for pedestrians and give the Headington shopping area a facelift.

The scheme, which is the second phase of the London Road improvement plan, is expected to cause nine months of delays for motorists when work begins next spring.

The improvements also mean the area’s 1970s subway will be filled in, at a cost of £45,000, and replaced with a pedestrian crossing.

Community leader Mick Haines, who collected 2,411 signatures on a petition to save the subway, said he would now take his campaign all the way to Downing Street.

Mr Haines, 68, of Crotch Crescent, Marston, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting. The council has got no respect for the will of the people whatsoever.

“Without a doubt I’m taking the petition to Downing Street. It isn’t over — I’m going to fight to keep the subway.”

Barton and Churchill county councillor Roz Smith said: “I will back Mick’s campaign. The subway is a feature of Headington, it isn’t just a safe way to cross London Road.”

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

But County Hall said 58 per cent of Headington residents were in favour of scrapping the subway when they realised there would be a replacement crossing.

At yesterday’s meeting, council engineer Colin Baird said the current subway would not be permitted under modern building standards as the ramps were too steep for people with mobility problems.

He said it would not be possible to accommodate both crossings without an expensive rejig of the first phase of the scheme.

Opponents of the work believe the second phase of roadworks between Osler Road and Wharton Road will be more disruptive than the first phase as it involves roadworks at busy junctions in the centre of Headington.

But the council said it had learned its lessons from the first phase of the scheme, which over-ran by two months and caused misery for more than 14,000 motorists who use the road every day.

County councillor Ian Hudspeth, the cabinet member for growth and infrastructure said: “I was very unhappy with what happened on phase one and I want to make sure it does not happen again.”

The council has suggested pictures of the subway’s colourful murals could be put on a website for people to view after it is filled in.

 Should the Headington subway close? Vote in our online poll


£3.6m plan to ease city jams

6:00am Thursday 25th June 2009


THE go-ahead is set to be given to the second phase of a £3.6m improvement scheme to combat traffic congestion in London Road, Headington.

Oxfordshire County Council wants to spend £2.3m to install a bus gate on the arterial route to reduce delays to Oxford-bound bus passengers and spruce up the Headington shopping precinct.

However, road users will face up to nine months of delays if the scheme is approved by the county’s transport chief Ian Hudspeth on Thursday next week. >

Councillors and civic leaders have demanded the authority learns lessons from the £1.3m first phase of the scheme which over-ran by two months and caused misery for more than 14,000 motorists who use the road every day.

Headington city councillor David Rundle said: “Everyone acknowledges the first phase did not go well.

“The county need to take a deep breath and make sure they are confident this will not be as bad a mess as the first stage.

“Stage one was unnecessarily disruptive and this phase is bound to be worse because of the significance of the district centre of Headington.

“It is absolutely crucial that does not going to happen again.”

Council officers have recommended the second phase of works for approval and if the plans are rubberstamped next week, roadworks between Osler Road and Wharton Road will begin in spring 2010.

The first phase which saw a new outbound bus lane between Gipsy Lane and Osler Road and a 20mph zone between Pullens Lane and Headley Way took ten months and finished at the end of May.

The plans will also see a well-used subway in the area controversially filled in and replaced by an above ground pedestrian crossing.

Croft Road resident and community campaigner Mick Haines, 68, gathered 2,511 signatures on a petition in March to stop the closure of the subway.

However, the county council said 58 per cent of Headington residents were in favour of the plans when they realised there would be a replacement crossing.

James Bloice Smith, of the group Headington Action charity which aims to improve the area, said: “We have been very impressed with the level of consultation.

“It’s been hugely better than anything we have experienced before locally.

“However, we hope the management and staging of this project is hugely better.

“The previous disruption was a nightmare and a lot of people found getting through Headington so slow they found other routes to get into the city.”

Councillor Ian Hudspeth said: “We are of course very keen that an overrun of the nature experienced on the recent London Road roadworks should be avoided.

“Those lessons will be firmly applied.”

Transport planning officer Joy White said: “This scheme would contribute significantly towards tackling congestion by reducing delay to the large number of bus passengers that use the route and encouraging greater bus use, as well as reducing delays to general traffic caused by congestion at bus stops.”

She added: “It would improve road safety through a reduced speed limit and a new design to reinforce it and improve the street environment.”

Headington shops are bracing themselves for the works with hairdresser Matthew Clulee claiming he suffered a 35 per cent drop in sales at this London Road outlet during the first phase of roadworks.

He said: “It’s unbelievable. The roadworks have been far and away the worst problem for our shop.

“We had what was a really thriving business here but now lots of our Headington customers go to our shop in Oxford because they say it’s easier to get to.”


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