Nobody likes waiting ages in queues.

Whether it is queues of traffic on the A34 or queues to buy food at the shops, waiting is a very frustrating exercise and one that seems to be testing the people of Oxfordshire.

There is plenty of debate surrounding the exercise of queuing.

Many say ‘the British love to queue’ but the very fact we are constantly finding ourselves in queues for passports and to reach work, is a better sign that our politics and systems of government aren’t working.

Last weekend, Matthew Alden posted footage of his butchers’ vans stuck in traffic along Botley Road, as stationery traffic from the A34 flooded onto the road and motorists were forced to make a U-turn.

READ MORE: Oxfordshire County Council has a 'diversity problem'

Oxford Mail: Oxford to Cambridge rail link workOxford to Cambridge rail link work

With Oxford’s roads no longer working for independent businesses or early morning commuters, many would point to trying alternative methods of transport such as taking the train or cycling if you don’t mind reeking of sweat in the office.

The Oxford to Cambridge rail link is an exciting prospect which will link two cities which are at the forefront of development in sciences and technology.

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Is the rail line likely to stifle the intellectual rivalry between the two cities?

Absolutely not.

But it will delight travellers who will be sparred the unnecessary faff of changing trains in London.

Oxford Mail: Housing in OxfordshireHousing in Oxfordshire

What is far more important though, is what the people of Oxfordshire think.


Oxford Mail: Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here (Image: Newsquest)

Public opinion is very difficult to gauge and even polls frequently get people’s perspectives on issues wrong.

This is understandable given that not everyone wants to reveal all to some random caller on the other side of the phone.

However, campaigners who spent ages examining the plans for the Oxford to Cambridge rail link have suggested the county could soon be “swamped” with housing developments.

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They point to the railway line not being economically viable without the new homes, as passengers in Cambridge will not be queuing to go punting in Oxford when they could easily fall into the river in their own city.

What both cities have in common is the lack of affordable housing and this is an issue which unsurprisingly can be solved by building thousands of new homes.

But what is crucial is that these homes aren’t built in what is left of our beleaguered countryside.

Meadows and ancient forests which are crucial for biodiversity are as important as electric trains in helping the country meet its climate change obligations – not to mention preserving the beauty and natural value of our rural areas.

READ MORE: Oxford East MP may be demoted amid Labour Party speculation

Campaigners are fearful powerful developers will see the new rail line as an opportunity to make money by rolling out yet more housing schemes at the expense of the communities which have already chosen to make a life in the country.

Striking the balance between tackling the housing crisis and protecting our environment is a tricky issue but it can’t be left as an afterthought.

What is required more than anything here is honesty.

And countryside campaigners can perhaps be forgiven for suspecting they are being duped

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About the author 

To sign up to Ed's weekly Politics newsletter, click here:

Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. 

He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

Ed’s weekly politics newsletter is released every Saturday morning.