Thursday, 11 March 2010

Accessibility not Mobility

Sushila Dhall's fronted the Greens opposition to the proposed Westgate development in the city centre for a long time now. Does Oxford need more shops and cars in the centre when what it clearly really needs is affordable housing? And (as Sushila pointed out in a recent residents meeting) that area was originally 'affordable housing'.

I've just realised that in the 18 years I've lived in Oxford I've never been into a single shop in the current Westgate. OK, so I'm a bloke and shopping isn't my thing, but even so . . . In fact, the only times I've ever been into Westgate at all are to go to the management suite to negotiate a busking spot under the canopy during Christian Aid Week.

The Greens have a slogan : "Accessibility not Mobility". Instead of trying to bus people to big shopping centres or out-of-town supermarkets and leisure facilities with massive car parks people need these things within walking distance if at all possible. East Oxford doesn't do too badly, with a wide range of shopping and leisure facilities all within easy walking distance. It's one reason why it's a great place. Let's keep it that way.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Oxford's budget

link to the Greens report on the recent Oxford City Council budget meeting, to give some idea of the practical issues the Green group of councillors are trying to address :

'Not to Let' in Manzil Way

Whilst doing an OxClean litter pick in Manzil Way on Saturday it was pointed out to me that the top floor of the new NHS building is vacant.

This building was financed under PFI - the Labour government's 'Private Finance Initiative' - in other words, privatised under what we in the Greens have taken to calling 'The Mortgage From Hell'.

The top floor was meant to be 20 flats for key workers; four years on, and it's still vacant space. The café on the corner of the building, which presumably hoped to draw custom from the residents, seems to have folded.

Even though this is supposedly an NHS facility, noone seems to know which shadowy organisations own it, or under what terms. Surely the key worker accommodation was part of the deal? In which case, how is it that it isn't happening?

If anyone knows the answer . . .

Monday, 1 March 2010

Russian roulette with the grandchildren

Graciela Chichilnisky, on this morning's Start the Week (Radio 4) claimed that whilst US politicians in the Senate and House of Representatives are inclined to challenge manmade global warming as an unproven hypothesis, and accordingly the federal government is slow to prepare for impending crisis (albeit 30 years away), over in the Pentagon it has been identified as the single biggest threat to US national security.

She is the first person I have heard to spell out clearly what I have been saying on my blog at for over a year: that when considering the probability of the hypothesis being correct (currently at least 85% I should think) it is also necessary to take into account the extreme consequences if it is indeed correct. Also, the costs and risks involved in acting to avoid the danger (costs and risks that are relatively low).

When you've spun the chamber of a revolver loaded with just one bullet, there is nothing particularly clever about saying you're fairly sure it's safe to point it at your head and pull the trigger. But a more accurate analogy would be to load five (83%) of the six chambers - and then fire the revolver at your grandchildren.