I RECENTLY visited a consultation exhibition on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme fronted by the Environmental Agency. The estimated cost is £120m.

To me, a non-specialist, the scheme’s major element appeared to be the digging of a channel around Oxford to get water past Oxford quickly and thereby prevent flooding in the city.

The consultation asks for comments but people are obviously totally unable to comment on whether the scheme would work, whether it would stop Oxford flooding. We have to rely on experts for the design. There was also nothing on possible alternative uses of £120m.

The proposal is to spend £120m of our money to lessen the risk of certain householders in Oxford being flooded, a commendable objective, but the quality of people’s lives is not going to be improved.

Shouldn’t we expect the expenditure of such vast sums, when other local expenditures are being decimated, to be used in part to make everybody’s lives better. The consultation briefly touched on this when it mentioned the possibility of better cycle paths around the city. Yes, I’ve cycled along wonderful riverside cycle paths in Germany which must help exercise, recreation and tourism. Why not these?

My favourite would be to try to use the soil from the digging of the new channel to create new embankments to support a light rail/tram system linking Didcot to Oxford and then on to Kidlington and Bicester.

Better local transport would enable those outside Oxford to more easily use its wonderful facilities, take commuter traffic off the roads and hopefully lessen the housing pressure on the city.

It would have the potential to save people a lot of time and make their lives better, just think how quickly you could get to Bicester Village.

I mentioned the above idea to one of the Environment Agency staff at the exhibition, good idea, but not one he could consider. Similarly, in a report on the new Oxford station proposals I don’t recall any proposal to incorporate a tram system.

Is it too much to hope for that we have a larger vision, governmental bodies/Railtrack break out of their bunkers/silos. To me, Oxford and its neighbouring towns seem ideally positioned for a linear transport link and we should insist that infrastructure projects generate benefits for all.

Tim Shepherd