A PROPOSAL to fill in a pedestrian subway as part of a road-widening scheme in Oxford has been described as "hare-brained".

Oxfordshire County Council is considering filling in the underpass in the shopping heart of Headington to improve traffic flow in London Road.

Widening that stretch would involve closing and 'filling-in' in the subway, which is painted with colourful murals.

Consultation on the plans starts next month.

Headington city councillor David Rundle said: "The most hare-brained idea in the scheme is to concrete-in the subway so the road can be widened.

"This has to be taken off the table - if not, then consultation at the beginning of July will be a set of fireworks. The subway is well-used by residents, especially the elderly and less able-bodied.

"It's seen as a facility not just a hole in the ground and so to concrete it in would really be seen as two fingers-up from the county to local residents and pedestrians."

County Hall said no-one was available to comment.

Janet Issac, 75, of Kennet Road, resident for 27 years, said: "It's an ideal crossing place between Windmill Road and Latimer Road. I don't think many people knew about this scheme - and when they do most will be disgusted."

Roz Smith, county councillor for the ward concerned, said: "One of the things suggested is they close this wonderful subway but it is well used by mums with prams, the elderly - people of all ages.

"Only five years ago it had a make-over. It is not a miserable subway so to fill it in makes no sense at all."

The county council has considered various options for improving traffic flow.

One would have closed London Road to all traffic except buses and taxis, but Marston residents said it would lead to traffic increases in their area. Another was to change the layout of London Road, Headington Hill, and St Clement's, including new bus and cycle lanes.

Stagecoach Buses spokesman Chris Child said: "We hope some of the delays passengers experience along this stretch will be minimised by any road development scheme."