Following on from a groundbreaking article (Car Ban or Carbon?) written on the traffic congestion plague affecting Oxford, investigative journalist Jan Futchinelle’s latest piece is focussed on the roads themselves. With kind permission, what follows is the full and recently published article, which many point to as responsible for triggering the recent wave of local popular support, outside of the city’s college walls.
THE STATE OF OUR ROADS
Controversy broke out yesterday, after a leaked budgetary document sourced from the luxuriously furnished office of the city council’s head spokes person Heather Headwoman (42), confirmed less than 20% of road tax revenue is spent on maintaining the county’s road system.
Asked to comment, resident city analyst Marc Bolamb (70) told me, “I’m no expert but neither am I surprised by this finding. Nearly everyone in Oxford knows some roads are effectively no-go areas as a result of potholes, including several main arterial routes leading into the city centre.”
Both stood at a majorly busy inter-section, we watched together as cars, motorcycles and bicycle riders bobbed and weaved over and around potholes as large in diameter and circumference as a family-sized frying pan and as deep as your average common or garden jam jar.
Recognised by passerby Atricia Partmann (52), long time resident of Pigeon Toe Lane for more than fifty years and counting, I asked for her two pennies worth on the subject, and received three and six.
“How long before an accident occurs due to a driver swerving to avoid a pothole or being theatrically thrown off course by driving into one? But no one cares.” She continued, her eyes watering up. “There’s global developmental delay rife and abundant within the council chambers, while the college people mostly travel around Oxford using the university-owned underground tunnel network. You’ll not get any change out of those ƒ∇⊆Κ∃ℜš!”
Emotions are running high on the subject. Despite displaying my credentials, one old man I attempted to interview angrily beat me off with an antique walking stick shouting at me how he hadn’t fought in the war, but if he had, it wouldn’t have been this he’d have been fighting for.
Back at home later that same evening, nursing a painful lump on the back of my head, sat at my desk in my white rolled-up shirt sleeves, a straight bourbon mixed with a dash of water and lime to one side, my tie pulled roughly to the other side… I stared into a blank computer screen wondering where the hell the answer to this road situation would lead and questioning exactly why I had gotten myself involved. Where did the other 80% of revenue go? Something told me there were important people out there drawing off some pretty large-sized cheques with a lot to lose. Based on today’s evidence, those same people weren’t too pleased seeing me poking my nose around in their business. The answers seemed to lay ahead of me in a blurry future, one I now felt none too sure of. Tomorrow’s another day, all I’ll get tonight is a few smokes and a shower, my eyes closing before my head hits the pillow.