• The Bridge Burford

Time For A Rant


Paranoia may be the new pandemic, it’s certainly catching. The fact that you are not paranoid does not mean that you’re not being followed, if you will excuse the triple negative. But is it paranoid to believe that Burford is under attack, that someone or something has it in for us? Consider the evidence.

First, the closure of the Visitor Information Centre. It is a commonplace and true assertion that economically we survive on visitor income. We provide the second largest contribution to West Oxfordshire’s tourist economy after Blenheim Palace. The VIC was a highly important generator of that income directing visitors to restaurants, hotels, B & Bs, shops and, crucially, lavatories. Yet it was closed down without any proper consultation on the fallacious and specious basis that only digital services were viable, that visitors don’t want to speak to actual people. It was a bonkers decision – and it threw good people out of work.

Secondly, our application for planning permission for an extension of our car park was refused despite the fact the WODC’s research and parking policy decrees that we should have an extra 200 car parking spaces. This was not a decision based on what the town wants and needs but based on objections from vast faceless monoliths like Historic England and the Campaign to Protect Rural England which had not bothered to visit the site. Indeed I suspect that the objections were made by robots programmed to say no if there is a blade of grass in sight. Paranoid, moi?

Thirdly, the Windrush. Thanks to WASP, Thames Water has now ’fessed up to poisoning the river for years. We cannot claim exclusivity here because it is clear beyond doubt that pollution has taken place up and down the Windrush and most other rivers in the country as well. But the fact that Burford has not been targeted alone does not make the attack on us any more palatable.

Fourthly, my favourite topic, HGVs. There are perfectly respectable and responsible reasons why neighbouring villages should be anxious about the effect on them of our weight limit and want to do something or have something done about it but the deliberate attempt to make bad blood between adjoining communities is obnoxious. Burford will fight as hard to protect its neighbours as it will to protect itself but selfish extremism will make it that more difficult.

Fifthly, Cole’s Field. At the time of writing, the application to build a small city is still under consideration so I will not try to anticipate the result. But we should never have been faced with the anxiety and apprehension that such a proposal is bound to engender especially among those who live close to Cole’s Field. The right decision was made in 2018, we should stick by it.

Sixthly and last, the bins! This is a new one. I look out of my window at a long line of bright blue recycling bins and less flamboyant black bottle boxes – evidence of outrageous excess no doubt for which we deserve to be punished – and fume. Covid and the driver shortage seem to have come as a complete surprise to Ubico which has taken over bin collection from WODC. Please take it back, WODC, it worked so well when you were in charge.

That’s the case for being paranoid. Are we downhearted –NO! Will we overcome –YES!

Here endeth the rant.

John White