Thursday, 27 March 2014

Stupid Westgate Plans Oxford Does Not Need

The City Council's grandiose schemes for re-developing the Westgate Centre have been passed, and they make as little sense as most of the schemes of the Labour Council (or the Conservative County Council). For a start the central library will be reduced in size and archives moved to Cowley.
Montage of Westgate plans and current view

We are in the middle of a severe recession and many working people have as little as £10 per month "disposable income" - i.e. spending money they can allocate on impulse to whatever takes their fancy. Most people are worrying about the rising price of food, heating and petrol, and the last thing they want to do is swan around department stores waving a credit card and buying designer clothes.
The students in Oxford are all debt-laden and surviving on a pittance. OK, they have got mobile phones and i-pads, but don't let that disguise the fact that they have huge loans and overdrafts, and that's before they even start to worry about getting on the housing ladder.
The Westgate Centre is only forty years old and the best thing to do with it would be to grow ivy all over it and then forget it. But the Labour City Council is obsessed with trying to create a mega-sized shopping centre in the middle of Oxford, to overshadow the University, which it hates and despises. The new building will dominate the skyline and ruin the view of Oxford's famous dreaming spires. Because of these schemes, which have crawled on for decades, the Westgate lay empty and unused for several years. We had no shops there at all for several Christmases in succession.  It was an empty shell. Now it is finally up and running, they just can't leave it alone.
The scheme, which will be financed by a group of investors, will cost £500 million and will mean disruption and obstruction in the city centre for three more years. I bet most of the labour will be done by migrant workers.
Shame on Oxford City Council for its stupidity. Why doesn't it do something about the appalling congestion people face now when just trying to travel in and out of the town? Between 4pm and 10pm on a bus or in a car it can take half an hour just to go the length of the High Street.
Because of the Labour Council's perverse refusal to let the Bodleian Library build much-needed storage space here within the town, books have to be transported by van twice per day in between Oxford and Swindon. What an idiotic state of affairs. They cannot understand that a library also creates jobs and that reading and studying are pursuits as valid as shopping.

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