Three cheers for your correspondent EWL Fletcher who reminds your readers that the Manor Ground was given to be used for the recreation of the people of Headington. Sadly I doubt whether our elected representatives will take much notice. Headington seems to be very low priority. Its problem appears to be that it is neither rich nor full of influential people as are North Oxford and Summertown nor sufficiently deprived to be judged in need of help like Blackbird Leys and East Oxford.
Mr. Fletcher is surely right to say that to use the site for leisure facilities would be better for the health of the community than another hospital. Moreover good leisure facilities are of concern to people throughout the city. The fitness/leisure centre facilities are poor in Oxford compared with many, often smaller and less prosperous towns. The fitness suites at Peers and Temple Cowley are too small and at Temple Cowley parking is a problem. The only serious fitness suite at affordable prices for the general public in the city is at Blackbird Leys, but it is a gloomy place and on the fringe of the city. Such inadequate provision is a disgrace in a city the size of Oxford.
What could be better than to use the Manor for a new leisure centre with fitness suite, provision for indoor sports such as squash, badminton; five-aside football, etc; rooms for teaching pilates, yoga, aerobics, for exercise classes for all age groups, etc.? We are increasingly aware of the importance of exercise for our health. The provision of good facilities is an important contribution to preventive medicine. Good reasonably priced facilities would attract people form other parts of the city: Headington is more accessible for many Oxford citizens than Blackbird Leys. Moreover, if the centre were set up in the right way – a charitable trust, perhaps - it seems highly likely that Lottery funding would be available for some of the costs. And the land released by the move of Oxford United from the Manor would be used in a way with fits with the spirit of the covenant imposed on it.
Is there a political party willing to campaign for this?
(note: reprinted with the kind permission of the author)
Councillors agree there is nothing to do for local kids
We would like to reassure Sylvia Lymbery that we are listening very carefully to local people on the future of the Manor Ground. Indeed, over the last few weeks we have been asking hundreds of residents living near the stadium for their views.
For instance, do residents believe the private Acland hospital should be allowed to relocate to this site from their current premises on Banbury Road? Are there any problems they can foresee will result from this proposal?
Our position on this issue is straightforward. We want to see the Manor developed to benefit the whole of the local community. We do not think a private hospital will achieve that.
Ms Lymbery's view that a leisure centre would be the best solution is one with which we have much sympathy. One of the most common refrains we hear in Headington is 'There's nothing for the kids to do' - which is all too true. The boredom it feeds is a reason (though not an excuse) for much of the petty crime and vandalism that occurs.
With this in mind, the City Council recently allocated £1m towards a proposed new swimming pool and fitness centre on the Bayswater Middle School site in Barton. A lottery application for the remaining funding will now be submitted, and we are very hopeful it will be successful. If it is then there will be a major leisure resource within 15 minutes' walk of central Headington.
A constructive approach to the Manor is clearly needed. We welcome the suggestion made in the County Council that the site should be developed into a 'community' school. This idea, still in its infancy, would see the local St Andrew's move from its present, cramped premises to become a single-storey primary school. It would share the Manor with a new Headington Library, with much improved access.
It's an ambitious plan, and not without difficulties (such as finance and security for the children). But we think it is vital local people are consulted from the start. The results of our survey are being compiled, and we will soon submit a report to both the City and County Councils.
It's early days but we think this is a genuinely exciting chance to get something on the Manor Ground that will be of real benefit to the people of Headington.
Cllr Stephen Fairweather-Tall
Lib Dem City Councillor, Headington ward
Lib Dem County Council candidate, Headington ward
Bowls Club do deal with club
Yesterday I spoke to a member of the Bowls Club who has confirmed that the Club has surrendered the covenant in a deal done with the Club. Bad news,though not unexpected.
The school/library scheme has been given the backing of the Education and Cultural Services Committees at County Council to the extent of asking for a report on its feasibility. All 'stakeholders' are on board. Finance is a
major issue - as well as holding the Acland and other undesirable would-be
developers at bay.
County Councillor Margaret Godden
Get the Headington Hobbit
Headington Forum has suggested that a sculpture of the Hobbit should stand in front of Headington's Barclays Bank.
I am not sure that Barclays Bank would want a Hobbit outside their branch, even though Tolkien was a bank manager's son. Banks don't like having anything in the vicinity of their cash machines, for security reasons. In any case, the Hobbits were hairy, and hair doesn’t work well on a statue.
I would rather commemorate C.S. Lewis. A lion is also too hairy; and a witch would be interesting, but in our present nanny state would probably not be allowed for security reasons. So probably the most we can expect is a wardrobe, as no one spends any real money on improvements to Headington: it would be so easy and cheap to put up, and would fit in well with the depressing ambience in Headington's centre which is so reminiscent of Attlee's England.
This statue would greet people visiting Headington's many shops, businesses, hospitals and University, as part of Headington's continuing efforts to regenerate the area.
Many businesses see such an idea as a useful marketing tool to promote the areas unique history, culture and sense of identity.
S. Jenkins, Oxford