Welcome to Witney Liberal Democrats. We are the Liberal Democrat party for the Witney Parliamentary constituency. The constituency is mostly rural and includes all of the district of West Oxfordshire and includes the towns of Carterton, Chipping Norton, Eynsham and Woodstock.
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
West Oxfordshire has a water problem. Whether it is flooding when it rains or sewage being released into our rivers, the system isn’t working.
Whether you live in towns and villages like Witney, Eynsham, Standlake or Finstock, or care about the state of our rivers, you are affected by the Tory inaction that has led to this crisis. The Tories talk about the problem but have done nothing to address it.
Sign our petition if you agree that it’s time for action not just words: https://www.oxonlibdems.uk/water_petition
Fund the Eynsham to Botley Community Path
Despite pledging to fund the Eynsham-Botley Community path, Conservative-run Oxfordshire County Council has excluded it from their multi-million pound bid for active travel.
Sign here to demand to reinstate the community path: https://www.oxonlibdems.uk/communitypath
Petition - Dual the Cotswold Line
The government plans to spend £199 million to upgrade the Cotswold Line, including dualling of the line between Hanborough and Wolvercote. But the 10 mile stretch of line between Hanborough and Charlbury will remain single track under these proposals, which have been endorsed by Oxfordshire County Council and supported by our MP Robert Courts.
Join Councillor Liz Leffman and the local Liberal Democrats in our fight to get the whole of the Cotswold Line dualled by signing below.
Please visit: www.oxonlibdems.uk/cotswoldline
Petition - Rethink Housing for Eynsham
Plans for a Garden Village and further development in West Eynsham will more than double the existing size of Eynsham and put further strains on local infrastructure which is already unable to cope. Plans for a Park and Ride will no solve the nightmare that is daily congestion on the A40
Sign our petition to demand that master planning for Eynsham and the surrounding villages should be done with the highest level of environmental measures possible and that the infrastructure needs to be radically improved to include safe and convenient bus, rail and cycling routes.
Please visit: www.oxonlibdems.uk/eynshamhouses
Petition - Infrastructure for Woodstock
The LibDems are launching a petition to demand improvements to infrastructure before further major housing developments are built.
Will you sign and show your support for:
A central Woodstock surgery that will benefit local communities and Woodstock businesses
Traffic controls: 20mph limits and controls on HGVs in town and village centres
Better, well connected, public transport: buses, rail, cycle tracks, footpaths
Improved parking facilities for those who must use their cars for travel
Please visit: www.oxonlibdems.uk/infrastructure_for_woodstock
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, to help ensure the continuation of vital services, such as bin collections, and to get leisure centres open as soon as itʼs safe to do so.
We have also been involved with the Councilʼs local strategy for economic recovery post- Covid, encouraging investment in the green economy to bring more job opportunities, healthier living and improved quality of life.
As always, Liberal Democrats are working hard for local residents and our towns and villages.
LibDem 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. If interested in joining, please email [email protected]libdems.uk. There are separate groups on the following:
- Environment & Climate Change
- Education & Young People
- Housing & Planning
- Health & Social Care
- Unitary Councils
- Employment, Leisure & Tourism
10% Swing for Lib Dems in General Election
Liberal Democrat Local Gains in 2019
We are now the official opposition on West Oxfordshire District Council with 9 seats. Andy Graham was re-elected in Charlbury & Finstock, joined by Dan Levy in Eynsham & Cassington and Nathalie Chapple in Stonesfield & Tackley.
Cllr Nathalie Chapple, Cllr Liz Leffman, Cllr Andy Graham, Charlotte Hoagland and Cllr Dan Levy.
Who Are We?
In West Oxfordshire, the Witney Liberal Democrats comprise hundreds of members active in Burford, Chipping Norton, Charlbury, Carterton, Witney and Woodstock as well as in the surrounding villages and countryside.
We made gains in the District Council elections in 2018 and 2019, and in the Euro Elections in May we won most votes overall in West Oxfordshire, beating the Brexit Party into second place, the Greens into third, Conservatives fourth and Labour fifth.
If you are interested in supporting the party you can join as a Lib Dem member - you will receive mailings from the local party, as well as from the national party. You have a vote in national Lib Dem matters such as election of the President and the Leader and the right to attend national and regional conferences to vote on policies.
You do not need to join the party to support us - we would be very pleased to hear from you. We need help in getting our message out to local residents, good locations for garden poster stake boards or even whether you can make on-going financial contribution however small to help with our campaign costs (printing leaflets etc). There is also a 50-50 club which has a monthly draw.
You can get in touch by wiring to [email protected] or phoning one of our local party officers:
- Carl Rylett (Chair) 07887 543455
- Nathalie Chapple (Secretary) 07503 484843
If you would like to support the local party financially, please visit our donation page by clicking here:
Ben Molyneux - A Close Second in Witney North
On August 29th 2019 the Liberal Democrats came within just 9 votes of winning the Witney North Town By-Election in an area where we have not focussed for several years. It was disappointing to miss out but still a good result.
Our candidate Ben Molyneux had this to say: "What a whirlwind adventure this campaign has proved to be! I am a relatively new Lib Dem having joined the party this year, the same as many of our new members, so frustrated with the Government, Brexit and the lack of decisive opposition from The Labour Party."
As we all know, a general election is looming and we now stand in a position to win in Witney which is a real prospect and the big bonus from our campaign.