At the local elections on 6th May, there is a clear choice facing voters. More of the same decline under Labour or a fresh thinking new start with the Liberal Democrats.
Vote Lib Dem for A Greener City
The climate crisis means we cannot wait or take half measures to reduce carbon and increase sustainability. In so doing we also have an opportunity to make the city more beautiful, improve the lives of residents, and make it more attractive for business and students.
On the Climate Crisis, we will:
- Protect existing trees and open spaces, green the city centre and create more habitat - including tree-planting, hedgerow, wetland and meadows.
- Upgrade building regulations to mandate zero emissions buildings. Waiting for the Local Plan review is too slow.
- Create more special places in the city that are pedestrianised or have pedestrian priority, making the city more attractive and vibrant for residents, students and visitors.
- Increase the number and scope of volunteers and volunteer groups.
- Develop and build on existing initiatives of the City Council where appropriate, and diversify investment to include green energy.
Vote Lib Dem for a proper Homelessness Policy
In response to the pandemic, all homeless people in Oxford have been moved off the street. Our policy, once the emergency measures end, is 'A Home for Everyone'.
On homelessness we will:
- Create a Lettings Agency for Everyone: a social enterprise agency run by a charity, supporting landlords to take tenants on benefits
- Provide more Affordable Homes for Everyone: building more affordable homes would make renting and buying homes much easier
- Prevention for Everyone: A pilot Drug Consumption Room in Oxford taking drug use off the streets for the benefit of users and the public
Vote Lib Dem for Better Housing and a Better City
On Planning, we will:
- Undertake a comprehensive programme of “greening” our city centre
- Accommodate more of Oxford’s housing need on brownfield sites and sites currently dedicated to employment use, for example the large, car-oriented “shed” businesses on Botley Rd and unfilled units on business parks
- Include a “walkability score” for all new developments
- Ensure that developers fully pay CIL and S106 contributions and are not allowed to water down their payments to the local communities.
- Prioritise 2 and 3-bed housing to meet the needs of local people, and starter homes.
- Encourage Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and other innovative approaches building methods to improve quality and reduce costs.
- Adopt innovative methods of ownership and tenure such as Community Land Trusts and other models.
- Allow an increase in housing density where this can be done appropriately.
- Include generous amounts of green space in all new developments.
- Ensure everyone has easy access to green space.
- Build to zero carbon, genuinely adopting the highest possible standards in the Local Plan.
- Ensure all development is linked to sustainable transport.
- Work to provide additional off-site car park serving the JR, easily accessible from the A40, linked by regular shuttle, reserving onsite parking for patients and staff who need it.
- Review LP policies on where new student accommodation can go, helping educational establishments to take students out of the private rented sector.
- Oppose the erosion of local democratic control in recent planning reforms:
- Reinstate two Planning Committees for Oxford.
- Improve communication with residents on planning issues.
- Increase access time for speakers at planning committees,
- Give councillors an automatic right to address planning committees on applications in their constituencies.
Vote Lib Dem for strategic and regional issues
Our priorities are for sustainable, zero-carbon growth, controlled by local democracy, creating real places of the right size and character, with spaces for co-working, digital infrastructure and a genuine enhancement to green infrastructure, biodiversity and natural capital.
On strategic and regional issues, we will:
- Undertake a holistic review of the Green Belt,
- New developments to be Net Zero,
- Add carbon sequestration, flood mitigation, improved recreation and amenity and biodiversity gain to the historic purposes of the Green Belt
- Require Green Infrastructure and Net Environmental Gain as part of all development
- Require genuinely sustainable transport for development proposals,
- Develop the principle of “Pocket Park-and-Rides” and “Pedal-and-Ride” along major routes, with ample secure bike parking and served by bike lanes
Vote Lib Dem for A city fit to live in
On Transport, we will:
- Reduce car use in the city and create more road space for buses and cycles
- Roll out the introduction of School Streets, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Controlled Parking Zones and other initiatives as part of a coherent, holistic vision for the whole city developed jointly with the County Council, and after genuine, wide-ranging community consultation and engagement
- Support 20mph speed limits in residential areas
- Challenge and review all existing transport proposals including Bus Gates, the Work Place Parking Levy, and the ZEZ, and recast the aims and objectives of these schemes on a more ambitious scale
- Work to limit private car use in our city centre
- Use car parking as a constructive policy, including working to reduce the ability of Westgate to encourage congestion by providing cheap parking
- Prioritise the creation of separate cycle lanes
- Build new infrastructure for cycling/walking
- Undertake a bold programme of pedestrianisation of our historic city centre
- Work with the bus companies to significantly improve bus journey times
- Support the opening of the Cowley branch line
On Development, we will:
- Put Zero Carbon front and centre of all policies
- Prioritise car-free development in the city
- locate growth at sustainable locations within the city
- Investigate opportunities for a similar approach to other sites outside the city boundary
- Support innovative development proposals, favouring a mix of types of dwelling and tenure, and MMC
On Tourism, we will:
- Reinstate Experience Oxfordshire’s grant,
- Action the recommendations of the Scrutiny Review Group into Tourism in Oxford
- Look at supporting cross-ticketing and an “Oxford card”
- Actively pursue a Business Innovation District in Oxford
- Make far better use of our Waterways as a leisure and residential resource.
Vote Lib Dem for A world fit to live in
In the aftermath of Brexit, it is even more important for our city to look outward to the world.
For our place in the world, we will continue to:
- Stress our continued commitment to the benefits of the EU
- Safeguard the rights of EU nationals, including access to services and proof of residence
- Support organisations in our city which work with refugees and asylum seekers as a priority
Vote Lib Dem for our Economy
This policy operates at several levels – we need to lobby at a national level for the replacement of council tax and business rates with a progressive tax system, and for a tourist tax. At a city level, we need transparent budgeting and a city-wide conversation about our loss-making commercial investments and our future investment policy, to include business groups and the universities. At a community level, we need to support thriving local businesses.
For our economy and we will work to:
- Establish business clusters and start-up networks to create new jobs
- Set up a business portal so that local businesses can compete fairly for council contracts
- Invest in properly affordable and key-worker housing
- Lobby for a tourist tax on hotel stays to improve the city centre for all once tourism has recovered
- Prioritise green energy and investment in local neighbourhoods
Vote Lib Dem for our Health, Wellbeing and Education
There are stark health equalities in our city and county and costs for health and social care are spiralling out of control. But we can influence the social, environmental, cultural, economic and commercial factors which shape health and educational inequalities in Oxford.
For our Health, Wellbeing & Education, we will work to:
- Encourage the local commissioning body to fund Mental health at the same level as physical health, with better services for adolescents, young adults and the elderly
- Provide a ‘package of care’ for carers – including free leisure centre use for all carers and free bus travel for young carers
- Ensure free school meals for all children in households on benefits
- Make recreation areas more accessible with better lighting and CCTV monitoring
- Provide music, arts, drama activities through collaboration between schools and communities
Vote Lib Dem for our communities
Our aim is to listen to our community and support local decision-making.
For our Communities, we will
- Empower innovative community responses to social challenges through neighbourhood forums and vastly improved consultation
- Ensure that decision-making is based on equality, transparency, inclusivity and financial empowerment of individuals and businesses
- Promote better community relations and safer streets through Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and other initiatives
- Develop community-led technology solutions to the city and county’s pressing challenges
Vote Lib Dem for our politics to mean something more than a vote
Four bullet-points are not nearly enough to summarise how a Liberal Democrat City Council would change the way that Oxford is run – but here are some which we would implement from the start:
For our City, we will:
- Bring back daycare for people needing support, mental or physical, and Sure Start type centres for pre-schoolers
- Embed climate change in all Council decision-making
- Lobby for voting rights for all residents over 16, independent of citizenship
- Encourage communities and local groups to engage with and influence Council decision-making by reversing top-down centralization and taking meetings and decision-making into our communities