MORE than 3,600 people have backed a campaign to save a “much-loved” Oxford subway.

In July Oxfordshire County Council agreed to spend £45,000 filling in the Headington subway and putting in a pedestrian crossing under a £2.3m traffic scheme.

The council said more than half of local people backed the plan.

But community leader Mick Haines has vowed to fight to save the underpass, which opened in 1970 and is adorned with murals of local shops and landmarks, like the Headington shark.

He hopes the petition will show the council the depth of local feeling to keep it open.

Mr Haines, 69, of Croft Road, said: “Ninety-nine per cent of people in Headington and the rest of Oxford want to keep the subway, especially young mothers. Disabled people will not come to Headington to shop if the subway isn’t there.

“People want me to carry on with the fight for it, because it’s part of Headington’s history.

“There has been such a fantastic response from the people. It’s unbelievable.”

Council records show there have been 40 road accidents involving pedestrians crossing London Road over the past five years.

But the local authority says a crossing will make the road safer.

Pensioner Maureen Green, of Franklin Road, who helped paint The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe scene for the underpass, said: “If you take all the character away people won’t come and shop here. If they can spend £45,000 to fill it surely they can spend some of that money to keep it clean and keep it open.

“Young children love running through the tunnel and they often charge ahead of their parents so this makes the road safer to cross.”

Christine Craft, 57, of Shaftesbury Road, said her husband Mike, who uses a mobility scooter, desperately wanted to keep the subway. She said: “The subway is safer than crossing the road.”

Council engineer Colin Baird said it would not be permitted under modern building standards as the ramps were too steep for people with mobility problems.

A council spokesman added: “The county council will be happy to receive this petition.

“However, as part of the council’s consultation with local people, 58 per cent were in favour of the removal of the subway, which was one of the factors taken into consideration when the decision was made to go-ahead with its removal. That decision remains.

“The replacement high-quality pelican crossing will provide everybody with a safe way of getting over the road as many people choose not to use the subway.”

Mr Haines will hand his petition to a council meeting on Tuesday, February 9.