Jay Griffiths, Pip Pip:
A postcard from Twyford Down, where the car’s progress is bought at the expense of place. And what place. Once full of exquisite natural beauty, Twyford Down was carved up for a road, to save motorists three minutes of time and now it is just a nowhere, a cutting between places. The progress of the car was the only important thing, not that of walkers, of kite-flyers, of lovers or of children. Road protesters stood in front of bulldozers to stop it.
As we know, those road protesters failed. But 20 years on, they’re commemorating the fight with a protest. Tomorrow (Saturday 29th) they will meet for a rally, supported by the Campaign for Better Transport’s Roads to Nowhere campaign.
I met Sian Berry of Roads to Nowhere a few weeks ago at the Green Party conference and heard about the Twyford Down anniversary. (Coincidentally, it was just after a friend gave me the book quoted above.) I was impressed by the clearness of her presentation and the energy with which she delivered it. That energy is needed: some of the unnecessary road schemes being fought now are schemes which were defeated by road protestors in the early 1990s, only to lumber into view again like zombies.
I won’t be there in person, but I’ll certainly be there in spirit. Instead, I’ll be manning a stall for West Oxfordshire Green Party, hoping to share the vision that the right kind of progress doesn’t have to come at the expense of place.