New safety campaign may be launched in Marston after dead baby is found by footpath

A police cordon is in place at the footpath between University Parks and Edgeway Road where a baby's body was found on Monday, February 29.

Saturday 12 March 2016 / News Bites

A NEW safety campaign may be launched in Marston after a newborn baby was discovered dead on an Oxford footpath.

Councillors and residents are petitioning for the introduction of street lighting and CCTV cameras for the footpath just off Edgeway Road and are urging people in the area to sign it.

City Councillor for Marston Mick Haines said the introduction of the measures would be vital in protecting the safety of people in the area.

He said: "The discovery of the baby on the footpath in Marston was the final straw and I decided that something needed to be done about the lack of safety measures in that area.

"There have been quite a few incidents down the path over the years and I believe CCTV and new lights are necessary to protect residents.

"I would encourage everyone to sign the petition -–which is in the Londis in Williams Road – so we can make people feel safe."

The baby girl's body was dumped near to the footpath on the morning of Monday, February 29.

South Central Ambulance Service spokesman David Gallagher said the baby was pronounced dead on arrival with experts saying the baby had been lying in the bushes between one and three days before she was found.

The police have stressed it is their priority to find the mother, who may need emotional or physical help.

The mother of the baby can contact a midwife on 01865 740429 or 07470 911038 to speak to a specialist officer.

Flood scheme needed to correct procedural errors

Wednesday 17 February 2016 / Letters

THE Northway and Marston Flood Alleviation Scheme is necessary to correct errors made in decision-making processes – approving development without sufficient pipework infrastructure, removing green spaces, trees and shrubbery, our original water storage.

Roy Darke is city councillor for Headington and Northway, previously county councillor, chairman of the east area planning committee who taught Town Planning, and bears responsibility for decisions made with development.

The aim of the £2.2m scheme is to divert flash flood water from the culvert behind the Boxing Academy in Saxon Road to temporary storage in Northway field, also Court Place Farm, then return it later slowly through the drains.

The scheme will not solve the mistakes with drainage at Court Place Farm (Oxford Mail, December 3) The scheme will not improve the antiquated pipework or the failing sewerage system in Northway and Marston.

The sewage storage tanks were not designed to cope with the increased amount of development, including Barton Park which has now started.

I was pleased to be informed on February 12 that the scheme heading will remove the wording ‘with 91 properties being completely removed from the known risk of flooding’ (Oxford Mail January 28) as we cannot know which properties they are.

The input of Betty Fletcher, Mick Haines, independent councillor for Marston, and others provided the evidence required to promote the flood alleviation scheme.

We will continue to champion for improved sewerage and drainage.

Statutory works should be put in place at weak points in Northway and Marston (not just Ferry Rd) (Oxford Mail, January 28) prior to Thames Waters sewage survey results due later this year, hopefully with an effective long lasting solution.

My address to full council (Oxford Mail, January 14) was valid and useful. No evidence was produced of any ongoing projects mentioned in their response.

Marston Road, Oxford

Marston residents campaign for community centre instead of planned flats on site of former Jack Russell pub

Mick Haines and members of the Marston community have developed plans to turn the Jack Russell Pub site into a community centre

Reporter covering Headington & Marston /Thursday 14 January 2016/News

NEIGHBOURS are fighting plans to demolish a former pub and build flats on the site by calling for a community centre instead. Shoqat Saddique put in an application to build flats on the site of the former Jack Russell pub in Salford Road, Marston, which was sold by brewery Greene King in October. But with the planning application recommended to be approved later this month, residents belonging to the Save the Jack Russell campaign hope to persuade city councillors to earmark the site for a community centre.

Independent city councillor Mick Haines, who leads the group, said: “We’re obviously still very disappointed by the recommendation for demolition. “To have such a valuable community asset torn down would leave Marston residents devastated because there really is nothing else here really that brings people together. • New plans unveiled for house where parents can stay close to hospitalised sick children • Mum of Connor Sparrowhawk says stronger action should have followed teenager’s death • Campaign group warn of ‘catastrophic floods’ if housing in Witney is approved • County alliance vows to derail plan to build more than 100,000 new homes • Schools plea for help as figures reveal a third of children in Oxfordshire are overweight “So while we wait for the next stages in the planning process, we’re starting to put together ideas for a community centre, where perhaps youth groups could meet, which would be much more beneficial to the community. “Although we have no formal finalised plan yet, we would see the community centre as a good chance to bring together different sectors of the community.”

Marston resident Malcolm Kitchen, 74, said he would like to see a community centre built to help keep local children “out of trouble”. He said: “A community centre for the young ones in the area would be fantastic because it would give them something to do and keep them from getting into any sort of trouble. “To my mind, putting a community centre there in place of private housing would be a much better use of the site and would be much better for the community.” Garage manager Martin Smith, 52, also from Marston, was in agreement and said campaigners would not be giving up without a fight. He said: “We’ve all fought so hard already to keep something worthwhile on the site because there’s barely anything else here, and that’s what we’re going to continue doing.” Council planning officer Robert Fowler said in a report due to go to city councillors at the end of the month the development would be an efficient use of the site. He said: “It would provide much-needed good quality affordable and market housing while at the same time establishing a balanced and mixed community. Appropriate evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that the existing pub is not viable and another similar facility exists within a reasonable distance.”

Mr Saddique said in the application to the council that work on the site was expected to start in February, but declined to make any further comment.

Delay fear if traffic lights replace roundabout

The Access to Headington plan

Wednesday 2 March 2016 / Letters

LAST week I went to the public exhibition held by Oxfordshire County Council over the Headington Access Transport plan.

I noted with pleasure that the plan for a bus lane in Cherwell Drive has been withdrawn but that they intend to take away the roundabout at the junction of Marsh Lane and Cherwell Drive.

I have just done a traffic survey there (I am asked by the public to do them,) on February 11 for two hours between 7.30am and 9.30am.

In that time 1,261 cars and vans, 20 motorcyclists, 11 large lorries, 14 cyclists, three ambulances, one coach and one tractor all seemed to get through without too much trouble.

However, if traffic lights are now replacing the roundabout, there will be delays.

Croft Road, Marston

Police confirm dead baby found in Marston was newborn and renew desperate appeal to find mother

Tuesday 1 March 2016 / News

THE BABY which was tragically discovered dead along a cycle path in Oxford was newborn, police have confirmed.

Supt Christian Bunt, local area commander for Oxford, pleaded for the mother to seek medical attention after revealing the baby still had its umbilical cord attached. 

Speaking to press at Thames Valley Police's Kidlington HQ today, he said: "Clearly this is a tragic and upsetting situation for everyone involved, including the local community.

"Our number one priority is to the mother. The umbilical cord is still attached to the baby which means there are clearly some health implications for the mother, potentially quite serious.

"We don't know how long the baby has been there but that mum is going to need to see a doctor fairly urgently. I would like to appeal to the mother that if she is reading this she comes forward and presents herself to a doctor or a nurse or to a hospital, where she can get medical help. 

"This looks like a tragic situation where mum will be extremely frightened and very upset and might not be thinking straight. 

"I am also appealing to family and friends and the local community - someone may have an inkling about who this mum may be."

The grim discovery was made along the path between Oxford University Parks and Edgeway Road in Marston yesterday, at about 9.20am.

Officers continue to guard a cordon along the path after forensic officers finished searching bushes near the site of the discovery, believed to have been made by a dog walker.

Supt Bunt refused to reveal the sex of the baby, if the baby was born where it was found, the details of how it was found and if there was a note left nearby.  

The baby, whose death is being treated as unexplained, was taken away yesterday and will be examined by doctors on Thursday. 

Det Insp Jim Holmes, from Oxford CID, said: “This investigation is in its very early stages and officers are working to trace the mother of the child as she may require urgent medical attention. If you are the mother of the baby, please come forward so that we can ensure any appropriate help needed can be provided.

“Likewise, if you are a friend or family member of the mother, please come forward so we can check on her welfare.”

When commenting on the shocking news, a number of residents made reference to an attack in the same spot in 2008, when a Japanese student was brutally mugged and left for dead.

Oxford City Councillor Mick Haines said: “ The cycle path needs more lighting. It is really dark and as far as I know they haven’t got CCTV. It needs more checking out.”

Walker Rebecca Dean, 36, was on the path at about 10am yesterday. She said: “I saw the cordon and a helicopter flying over. I’m shocked; it’s a very busy cycle path.”

The police cordon will remain in place over the coming days. 

Yesterday forensics took away a pink stuffed bunny on the footpath, seemingly a tribute to the baby.

A lone potted flower was left by a midwife at the scene this morning. 

Anyone with any information on the death, or the mother’s whereabouts, can call the 24-hour Thames Valley Police enquiry centre on 101.

We should know homes that are flood protected

Thursday 28 January 2016 / Letters

I HAVE revisited the correspondence relating from Councillor Darke’s original article (Oxford Mail, November 26) and note that I have provided evidence and not perceptions as suggested in Cllr Darke’s response (Letters, January 21).

I have written twice agreeing that the Northway/Marston Flood Alleviation Scheme is necessary. However, I am troubled by the claim (Oxford Mail, December 15) that “the scheme will ensure that 93 homes will be totally free from future storm flooding”.

Our money is being invested in this project but why aren’t the public allowed to know which homes will be protected? The fable of the Emperor’s new clothes comes to mind.

Cllr Darke built his home close to Ferry Road – on a flood plain. He revealed his own sewage flooding (Oxford Mail, December 30) and described resolving neighbours’ sewage issues by supporting the installation of retention tanks at Croft Road and Court Place Farm (Oxford Mail, November 26).

The Ferry Road manhole has not overflowed, however the weather has not caused problems for Oxford yet this winter. Cllr Darke knows that Thames Water has statutory works in place and is providing this regular maintenance to support the “at risk” drainage in Ferry Road, proving the tanks aren’t “fit for purpose”. The effectiveness of these is diminished by continuing development.

t is a positive step that Barton Park’s sewage plans were altered to include a pumping station.

Developers have taken into account local residents’ concern and continued lobbying from Independent councillor Mick Haines.

Additional improvements to Northway and Marston drains are required.

Marston Road

Improvements to flood drainage are essential

Thursday 14 January 2016 / Letters

IN RESPONSE to Cllr Roy Darke’s letter of December 15 entitled: I’ve worked to solve historic problems with surface floods.

Cllr Darke should recognise the valuable contributions made by Betty Fletcher, Mick Haines (Independent city councillor for Marston), myself and other campaigning bodies which have effected change, ensuring Oxford City Council moves forward with service provider Thames Water.

On November 25, 2013, I addressed the full council at Oxford City Council, concerned about sewerage, drainage and development.

The council’s response from Michael Crofton-Briggs (head of city development and East Oxford planning committee) stated Oxford City Council had no direct influence over Thames Water utilities.

I put in a complaint to Peter Sloman, the chief executive of Oxford City Council, on February 19, 2014, claiming there was a moral obligation to work with Oxfordshire County Council to ensure Thames Water was fulfilling its responsibility as a provision provider.

Betty Fletcher addressed the city council’s scrutiny committee on February 4, 2014, highlighting her long-running campaign regarding serious concerns about the antiquated drains and sewerage provision in Northway.

Then the scrutiny committee set up a sewage flooding panel to get Thames Water to take foul water flooding seriously and get something done.

We stand by the details of our letter (December 3, 2015) and Mick Haines’ letter (December 21, 2015) provides evidence that the Marston flooding happened and was not a wild assertion as Cllr Darke stated in his response (December 15, 2015).

Northway and Marston water surface scheme is necessary. However, would you plough money and lend your support to a scheme where the benefits are kept hidden?

The sewage from the Barton Park development will go through Northway and Marston pipework on its way to the Sandford Treatment Works and place even more pressure on retrofit tanks installed over 10 years ago. Improvements are essential.

Marston Road, Oxford

Sewage pumping station was not mentioned at all

Thursday 7 January 2016 / Letters

THE POT calling the kettle black comes to mind after reading Councillor Roy Darke’s comments about Councillor Mick Haines regarding sewage spillages in Croft Road, Marston (Letters, December 30).

Unlike some, Mick’s great strength is that he listens to the concerns of his residents and takes them seriously.

Consequently, he went to all the briefings and at no time was a proper sewage pumping station at Barton Park mentioned.

William Street, Oxford



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