FIRST the floods, then the gridlock. Who in their right mind would commute into Oxford if they could possibly avoid it?

Our beautiful, historic city is beset by the twin curses of flooding and traffic, both of which bring the place to a standstill with monotonous regularity.

As the waters recede, there were many who longed for a car-free Botley Road yesterday, as another set of impromptu roadworks at the Ferry Hinksey Road junction brought some of the worst queues seen for a long time.

Reports abounded of people taking up to two hours to complete journeys which usually took no longer than 15 minutes.

Children were late for school, adults late for work and countless other appointments missed or delayed. The cost to the local economy must be huge.

The roadworks were necessary, of that there is no doubt. But the communication and timing was nothing short of appalling.

Our fragile roads network is alarmingly susceptible to juddering to a frustrating halt.

It only takes a strategically placed accident, or a set of roadworks and the whole thing clogs up like a diseased artery.

Something has got to give and encouraging people on to buses and bicycles is not the panacea. If roadworks must be done, as many as possible should be in the evenings or at weekends.

And before the bean counters pipe up, they can hang the cost, which must be tiny compared to the fortune being wasted by leaving workers fuming in the jams.

We simply cannot go on like this.