Archive for August, 2013
Remember the historic chestnut tree, threatened with the axe by an insurance company? We’re delighted to report that the tree has received a stay of execution.
The tree was planted in 1927 to celebrate the piping of water to Leafield village. There was a planting ceremony with prayers, hymns and speeches. But it was threatened with destruction when RSA Insurance Group (formerly Royal and Sun Alliance) claimed that it was responsible for cracks in the wall of a nearby house, Butchers Cottage.
Leafield locals, determined to save the tree, met on the hottest day of the year (14th July) to share their concerns. Those present included children, a pregnant woman and a 92-year-old, along with most of Leafield’s parish councillors. Residents also started a petition which has gained 145 signatures so far. The show of feeling prompted the parish council to hold a formal public meeting.
Now the campaigners have received the best news they could have hoped for: RSA Insurance Group has become aware of public feeling and has also inspected the report sent to them by Dr Giles Biddle, an independent tree expert employed by the parish council. RSA has agreed a “stay of execution” for the tree while further investigation is carried out.
Residents have always argued that the date set for felling the tree (29th July) was too soon and that the decision was made without enough evidence. The surveyor working for the insurance company did not have certain facts to hand – for example, he was not aware that previous owners of Butchers Cottage had carried out underpinning, or that an older building used to rest alongside the wall in question before being demolished because it was causing damp.
The Leafield campaigners believe that a fair, unhurried look at the evidence will show that the tree is not the cause of the problems with the property. Resident Anney Harris said: “We hope against hope that the tree may be allowed to remain.”
BBC1 The One Show 13th August 2013
Our Dave appeared to be promising us new cricket pitches for fracking this week – if we want them – but was far less generous with his announcement of cash for cycling. The nearest it gets to us is Oxford; precisely where OCC currently spends most of the county’s minuscule bike budget.
The new investment is being focussed, which is good, otherwise the (very approximately) £150 million over two years would be spread so thinly it wouldn’t stretch to an innertube each.
A direct comparison with investment to improve motor vehicle infrastructure shows us just how seriously the treasury takes cycling. If Dave were to pace out the road investment from his constituency office in the High Street to the threatened post office in Market Square, he would have used up his bike budget after the first two steps.
If he jumped on his bike and tried riding back on a Friday afternoon he’d be stuck in the traffic jam with all the motor vehicles trying to exit the centre because there’s no space for cycling. That’s why his constituents are all sat in cars. The only way it could be made worse is if the Pickle’s double yellow parking plan were implemented, bringing the High Street to a complete standstill.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between big numbers – millions, billions, zillions, squillions – so let’s look at the £1.4 million figure announced for Oxford. It happens to be almost identical to the sum being spent on the Ducklington Lane junction improvements. If you’ve looked at the junction proposal you’ll be aware that there is NO bike access planned to either the Thorney Leys Business Park or to Avenue One off Station Lane. It’s as if money put aside for road improvements can’t be spent on rectifying the historical lack of space allocated to cycling.
Dave has a solution to that – investment in ‘cycle proofing’ designs for trunk road junctions – which is good, but as described wouldn’t apply to the Ducklington Lane improvements.
I’ll leave you with Dave’s words because they’re far more positive and inspiring than what I can see being provided for Witney’s bike users. Why not ask him what he’s doing for his West Oxon constituents?
“Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high – now we want to see cycling soar. Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and onto the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists.
“This government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up and business, local government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this.”
On the bright side, I imagine we’re far more likely to see money invested here for cycling than fracking.
If you’re interested in security-marking your bicycle, to help track it down in case of theft, Witney police station are running a marking scheme today (Saturday), 2–4pm. Sorry for the last-minute notification, but we’ve only just spotted the event ourselves!