Oxfordshire County Council's first 100 days!
Oxfordshire County Council is now being led by a partnership of the Lib Dems, Green Party and Labour, called the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance.
Today (Saturday 14th August) marks the first 100 days of the administration, and we would like to use the opportunity to highlight our early actions to change the council, and our County to be fairer, more caring and greener. With just some of our early actions, we have:
· Backed an investment of £5 million for accommodation, which will enable local adults with learning disabilities to live supported independent lives within the County.
· Joined with local bus companies to form an Advanced Bus Partnership with the aim of improving the coordination of local bus services and the expansion and improvement of services across Oxfordshire.
· Oxfordshire County Council is assisting the Witney Oxford Transport Group in a study to explore whether and how a rail route can be defined and protected in conjunction with the A40 works programme and the Salt Cross Garden Village.
· Across West Oxfordshire run “20 is Plenty” schemes to make our roads and villages safer. The County has now kicked off a project to look at how these schemes could be implemented across the county. The Lib Dems believe that any community that is concerned about traffic speeds locally should be given support to implement appropriate speed reduction measures.
· Appointed a Cabinet Member for Climate Change Delivery and Environment, to make sure that decarbonisation and climate resilience are at the heart of our policies.
We’re pleased with the above progress, but please view them as just our opening shots. There is more currently in the works and there is clearly much more to be done.
We are determined to work with, and for, our community to deliver real change. We will keep you closely informed of our progress.
Please follow our Facebook Page, for more information.
Stop the Planning Power Grab
Please sign our petition here to demand to keep your say on any applications which happen in your local area. The Government are attempting to push through reforms which will take this right away.
Thoughts on Liberalism (Published Witney Gazette, July 28, Carl Rylett)
I recall one afternoon in 2010, in a car in Glasgow with a group of work colleagues discussing the upcoming General Election. I quipped that I would vote for the Liberal Democrats for two reasons; firstly because they were not Conservatives and secondly they were not Labour. The real reason, however, was a beginning of a feeling that the Liberal Democrats represented a genuinely distinct political philosophy to the other parties. My vote was not just protest on a single issue, the Iraq war for example. Five years later I joined the Liberal Democrat party and have further pondered the relevance of liberalism today. The term historically has had several meanings and often today brings up the image of nineteenth century economic liberalism, or left-wing American politics. But what is the central point of liberalism today and how is it relevant to people’s lives? At core, liberalism is respect for the individual, and addressing today’s challenges and opportunities at the human scale. It is the celebration of the individual genius of each and every person, without exception, and the celebration of the role each one of us plays in society – in the family, workplace and community, because each one of us is part of the rich tapestry of humanity. That means respect for all, regardless of social class, profession or nationality. That means avoiding pitting different groups against each other, whether based on geography, gender, level of education or ethnicity, and finding common ground wherever possible. There will never be complete agreement on everything, and liberalism in fact embraces diversity of opinion, where argument is based on commonly established facts and an empathy with those of other opinions to understand why they may come to a different conclusion. The greatest inequality today is by geography. Those fortunate to be born in more developed countries benefit from accumulated historical advantages. This is highlighted by the vaccine roll-out – successful in richer countries, while those who happen to live in poorer countries such as India are suffering much more. The key point about liberalism is avoiding any personal illusion that one is superior somehow to members from another group or tribe – be it gender, geography, nationality, profession or age - in short, respect for all. Upon this foundation of principle, the role of government, including local councils, is to do what it can to foster each person’s individual talents and to allow them to develop to their fullest capacity. This focus on empowerment of the individual feeds into Liberal Democrat policies, such as improving education at al levels, from schools to life-long-learning, and also supporting residents to get involved in decision-making in their local communities. And it is why we oppose the government’s current proposals to take away citizens’ rights to have their say in planning applications.
Cllr Carl Rylett
District Councillor for Eynsham & Cassington
Lib Dems and Fair Deal Alliance Take Charge in Oxfordshire
After huge gains in May 2021 local elections, the Liberal Democrats have taken charge of Oxfordshire County Council, with Liz Leffman, our Councillor for Charlbury and the Wychwoods, voted in as Leader. Toppling the Conservative majority for the first time in 16 years, the Lib Dems have formed the 'Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance' with Labour and the Greens as partners. Together, the alliance has set out ambitious goals for the next four years.
Our newly elected Councillors
Across West Oxfordshire, Lib Dem councillors are working hard for their local communities, making sure that new houses imposed by Tory-led councils have enough infrastructure and services to support them, and opposing out-of-control development. We favour public transport, active travel, walking, cycling and doing everything we can locally to ease the climate crisis.
From West Oxfordshire, Liz is joined on Oxfordshire County Council by Andy Graham (newly elected Councillor for Woodstock) and Dan Levy (newly elected councillor for Eynsham). In West Oxfordshire District Council, where Tories retain a slender majority, Liberal Democrats Elizabeth Poskitt and Liz Leffman were returned while Andy Goodwin (Eynsham) and Mathew Parkinson (Stonesfield & Tackley) joined for the first time.
You can see a complete list of our councillors for West Oxfordshire at: www.oxonlibdems.uk/west-oxfordshire-councillors
Dan Levy, Liz Leffman and Andy Graham now represent West Oxfordshire on Oxfordshire County Council
The challenges that lie ahead
If you live in West Oxfordshire and drive or take the bus, you're likely to have been stuck in traffic. If you live near the Windrush, you may have had sewage in your basement or garden. Thanks to Tory decision-making at the national and local level, 10,000 new houses are coming to our district, so these problems are only going to get worse.
Our councillors will put infrastructure before housing, re-examine developments that don't make sense, and will put in place plans for a long-term solution to transport problems. Here's a list of some of the issues we're focused on, including bold solutions for traffic problems in West Oxfordshire.
Infrastructure Before Housing
Both the Tory County Council and Tory West Oxfordshire District Council have decided that the Eynsham, Standlake, Hanborough, Hailey/North Witney and Woodstock areas should take a high proportion of the new housing they insist on building.
In order to get just a small amount of affordable housing, property developers have been let loose on our fields. Remarkably, the Conservatives have proposed that the developers of new sites, like the Garden Village, will not contribute to the Community Infrastructure Levy designed to provide the necessary infrastructure when developments are built.
Developer greed is putting extra strain on our roads, on our water systems, and on our schools. The Liberal Democrats insist on building infrastructure first. Here’s some short clips showing what our councillors have to say about the housing developments in Eynsham and Woodstock, where the plan is to increase the number of houses by one third.
Here are some of the initiatives we're pushing for:
To make it easier to get around West Oxfordshire:
Restoring the Oxford-Eynsham-Witney-Carterton Railway Line - this will make a huge difference to so many of us in the district who suffer from terrible traffic and reduce pressure on towns like Hanborough.
Dualling the Cotswold Line - we oppose plans that leave a ten mile gap of single track line around Charlbury and Finstock, resulting in only one train per hour in those towns and villages.
Funding the Eynsham to Botley Community Path - providing Eynsham with a safe Active Travel route into Oxford. Many of us take the car because there's no other choice. Here's councillor and candidate Dan Levy explaining the current situation for anyone who wants to get around West Oxfordshire by bike, and what could be improved.
In Woodstock the LibDems are demanding improvements to infrastructure before further major housing developments add another 600 houses over the next ten years. Here's what our councillors are proposing.
Eynsham is set to see an additional 3000 houses built. Here's our response.
Whether its flooding or sewage, we need to deal with West Oxfordshire's water problem. Here's our view on the current sewage situation, with data about which of West Oxfordshire's villages have been worst hit.
Tackling Covid Together
During these difficult times it has been amazing to see how communities have come together to help each other out across the District. Supporting and empowering communities is a key part of Liberal Democrat philosophy, and your local Liberal Democrat councillors have played our part.
We have contacted vulnerable residents to give advice, support and to listen to their concerns. And we have helped support local resident groups. In the background we have also been actively working with the District Council to support the homeless and those most at risk and ensure the continuation of vital services.
We have also been involved with the Councilʼs local strategy for economic recovery, encouraging investment in the green economy to bring more job opportunities. For example, here's how we're helping the self-employed and small businesses at this difficult time.
As always, our LibDem councillors are working hard for local residents and our towns and villages
Lib Dem Policy Groups
Would you like to help shape the future of West Oxfordshire with the Liberal Democrats? We are welcoming all members to get involved in putting together our manifesto for next year and to join our policy groups. There are separate groups on the following:
- Environment & Climate Change
- Education & Young People
- Housing & Planning
- Health & Social Care
- Unitary Councils
- Employment, Leisure & Tourism
If you're interested in joining, please email [email protected]