I DON'T have a problem with councillor Mark Lygo as a person, he's an amiable-enough fellow, but his appointment as the next Lord Mayor of Oxford is wholly inappropriate.

Mr Lygo is already a dual city and county councillor, which is wrong in itself. His patches cover vast swathes of OX3 – Wood Farm, Gypsy Lane Estate, Marson and Northway. How can he represent all these communities effectively and carry out all his mayoral functions?

Moreover, being Mayor will make him council chair. And isn't this keen athlete sports ambassador for the city as well? He'll occupy more roles than Peter Sellers had in Doctor Strangelove!

Presumably he'll resign his county seat to do justice to his city jobs.

Is it not time the council broke with tradition and awarded this purely ceremonial role to community stalwarts such as Mahesh Gandhi and Barbara Naylor by way of recognition for their tireless community and social work?

It should not be a case of Buggins Turn, the role should not be the sole preserve of long-serving councillors, and dual councillors should not even be considered for it.



Take seriously the modest opportunity (21 days) permitted for ‘Comment’ on the Planning Application Univ has put before the City of Oxford (Ref. 20/0011/FUL) and you face a daunting task. Bland rhetoric combines with mind-numbing statistics and eye-straining diagrams to counter opposition and reassure sceptics that all will end well when the North Oxford Campus is complete.

Let me expose a single instance of the flawed reasoning at work. Since the application flouts the need for climate action and calls for a devastating loss of trees (132 to be exact), will its authors own the following facts? I attest to their authenticity; they were supplied by the Master of University College. Of the 132 trees to be removed, 102 of them are of such ‘low amenity value’ they can be disposed of, to be replaced later by trees of a higher quality. These trees, over time, will allow the ‘new planting and quality trees to shine’. Put scientifically, ‘Tree canopy lost is 3441 m2 but the tree canopy gain from new tree planting at maturity (~15 years) is 4380 m2.’ Note how this equation ignores birds, worms, mice, spiders or bats. Their omission is deliberate: abstract formulae reduce existence to dreary statistics and lifeless numbers.

Some might remember the rationale of the US officer in Viet Nam, who claimed that it had been necessary to destroy the city in order to save it. Those backing Univ’s plan accept this logic. Note that Oxford’s Tree Officer endorses a tree plan prepared by an Aboriocultural Consultancy which boasts of its ability to ‘Take on planning appeals that can’t – or shouldn’t – succeed’. Note also that the Master of Univ is the Crewe of Anthony King and Ivor Crewe, joint authors of The Blunders of Our Governments (2013). This persuasive study analyses why proposals often result in disastrous unintended consequences. It ascribes failure to indifference to criticism and argues for genuine consultation and legislation based on the medical maxim: “‘First, do no harm’” (p. 397). If Sir Ivor Crewe were willing to accept his own published advice, the plan would invite less opposition. Rather than deny climate change, why not trim the scale to suit the urgent realities of the 21st century not the 19th? That way, the Master of University College could leave the city a benign rather than a toxic legacy.


North Oxford