Oxford has no need for extra tourist attractions

First published in Letters

Sir – I was astonished by the wails of ‘belated support’ (Report, January 23) for Science Oxford’s ‘Magnet’ scheme from preservationist bodies. I sincerely hope that English Heritage and Debbie Dance (Oxford Preservation Trust), supposedly upholders of history and the best of the past, are crying only crocodile tears for this monstrously unsuitable building.
Richard Hunt (Letters, January 23), to judge by his hatred for all things ‘heritage’, should move to Milton Keynes or Cumbernauld if he considers Oxford so hopelessly passé. I’d like to believe his letter satirical but I fear he’s deadly serious.
I’m struck also by the fact that the Register Office, a key place for marking life, marriage and death, is regularly pushed from pillar to post as if it didn’t matter. In the 1960s it was in a ‘heritage’ building in St Giles, by the 1970s it had been banished to a gloomy corner upstairs in the Westgate adjacent to the multi-storey car park.
At least recently it has been back in a building worthy of its importance to us all and should not be shunted once more into outer darkness.
No one seems to have told us where ‘they’ intended to transfer it if the current building was demolished for the Magnet.
While a Magnet-style facility, in the right place, would certainly be worth having, it isn’t as if Oxford needs extra tourist attractions as Mr Hunt fondly believes. People come here for the ‘ancient heaps of rubble and earth’ he’d like to bulldoze and in sufficient numbers in the high season to overwhelm us locals.
Dr Anthony Cheke

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