WARNINGS that “temporary” repair work is ruining Oxford’s only cobbled street have gone unheeded, college officials warned last night.

Oxford City Council came under fire 18 months ago for failing to replace the cobbles in Merton Street, the picturesque cobbled lane featured in numerous films and television dramas.

But with holes continuing to be filled with asphalt, an Oxford college has voiced its concerns that “botched” repair work is being allowed to continue on one of the city’s most historic streets.

It said more sections of Merton Street were being covered in ugly black patches.

Merton College Home Bursar Douglas Bamber said: “I have heard many people expressing concern that the road has become so badly patched. People have come to me saying, ‘What are they doing to this street? Why are they just botching it? Can’t you do something about it?’ “What is potentially a beautiful street is becoming disfigured. The question for Oxford is does it want Merton Street to be cobbled or does it want something else?”

He said the failure to replace the cobbles was also putting cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

Mr Bamber said: “There are so many holes it is becoming a health and safety risk.

“Because the road had deteriorated so much, more cyclists are using the pavement. I am aware of two accidents involving people coming out of college buildings.

“We have had to start putting up warning signs. One of the accidents was serious enough for a woman to be off work.”

Colin Cook, the city council board member for city development, said it depended on funding from Oxfordshire County Council for such repair schemes.

Mr Cook said: “This is something we need to get sorted. Clearly the work needs a scale of investment that the county council is not up to at the moment.

“But if Merton College wants to reach into its pockets and offer to help, I’m sure the county council would welcome the offer with open arms.”

However, county council spokesman Paul Smith said: “The city council determines its priorities within the city of Oxford from the funding provided by the county council.”

The author Bill Bryson described Merton Street as “an architectural treasure-house, one of the densest assemblies of historic buildings in the world.”