IT is difficult to know quite what to make of the promises, pledges and multi-million pound commitments that have been showering down on Oxfordshire all this week.

The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary (though why he should be involved in announcing A34 improvements is anybody’s guess) have been falling over themselves to announce a series of huge investment plans for the county.

Poor George Osborne was given no chance to display his determination to tackle Oxfordshire’s chronic housing, flooding and traffic problems in his Autumn Statement yesterday. Nick Clegg and David Cameron had already beaten him to it.

The bewildering speed of the announcements — and the lack of detail about hugely complicated schemes — means it is far from easy to establish the real significance of all these financial pledges.
It is clear that the £50m of funding for improvements for the A34, welcome though it is, should be viewed as a stop-gap measure rather than anything that will remove the daily misery of travelling on the clogged-up trunk road. There will be certainly be new driver information, no doubt to tell stationary fuming motorists of potential delays ahead and more CCTV so those jams can be remotely monitored.

News of the Garden City proposals for Bicester is altogether more confusing.
The Daily Telegraph after interviewing Mr Clegg came away with a front page story about a new settlement being created.

In fact the plan is to transform Bicester into a Garden City, something to grow from the existing eco-town project. A figure of £100m was mentioned, along with 13,000 homes.
Yet The Oxford Times quickly learnt that it would not lead to extra homes. These 13,000 homes had always been planned for Bicester anyway. Work on some will not begin until after 2031.

This is to take nothing from Cherwell and its successful bid to become a Green City, leading the way for the rest of the country. One way or another, serious money will now come in for schools, link roads and an M40 junction — and all the other infrastructure costs that put major projects back for decades, although the implications for the A34 are truly frightening.

It also remains to be seen whether some of this money is in fact funding already promised under the various City and Growth deals previously launched by Mr Clegg and Mr Osborne.

Then there is the £42m pledged by the Prime Minister towards the £120m Western Conveyance Scheme. The idea of this massive channel being built around the edge of Oxford will have seemed fanciful to many of our readers, but the funding seems to be falling quickly into place.

However, once again, it needs to be recognised that construction work on this scheme will not begin until 2018 and then take up to six years to complete.

A General Election, perhaps a European Union referendum and numerous economic upheavals could easily mean we are looking at a very different political landscape by then.