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If you don’t Usually Vote, this would be a great time to start!

I can understand why some people don’t vote. They’ve lost faith in democracy and I don’t blame them when the same party always wins!

But in this election there is the chance for change. I can win this vote in the county elections, as I did in 2019 in the district elections, and Fiona Mawson can win in the district again giving, us 2 Green councillors in the area. But we need everyone to get out there and make their mark.

NOT VOTING JUST MEANS NOTHING WILL CHANGE!

I’ve lived in Yarnton for 28 years (along with Fiona) and seen how uninterested our local councils are about what happens to our local villages. There’s no better example of this than the concreting over of our green belt, forced on us by the Conservative led District Council.

Tory councillors will tell you they tried to stop it, but they didn’t speak up at the Public Inquiry because they’re not allowed to defy their party leadership. As your Green councillor, we will work for you. Greens don’t answer to a party whip and we always put people before politics.

I’ve been opposing the council’s development plans for 4 years and I intend to carry on fighting. Our legal challenge will be heard in June and I hope we’ll win. But whatever happens, we’ll need strong local councillors to look out for our interests on planning applications to ensure that developers deliver on infrastructure , flooding protection and health and education provision.

But we need everyone to get out and vote to make that happen. If people don’t vote the status quo usually wins. In Oxfordshire that usually means the Tories, but in recent years things have started to change. In 2019 the Greens went from 2 councillors in Oxfordshire to 12. That has really made a difference across the county and that’s palpable in areas like Kidlington where all of a sudden we’re seeing more investment.

Labour voters might consider voting Green as the best way of removing the Tory stranglehold on our local government and helping to realise some of our shared social justice aims.

If you usually vote for another party, you can vote tactically this time, lending your vote to me and Fiona temporarily just for this election. Libdems should vote Green on this occasion as we’re working together as we have done for the past 3 years now. Labour voters might consider voting Green as the best way of removing the Tory stranglehold on our local government and helping to realise some of our shared social justice aims.

Voting Conservative, or not voting at all, just sends a message to the ruling groups on both the County and the District that we’re all fine with what they’re doing to our areas. They won’t care if you don’t vote, especially if they don’t think you’d vote for them.

Not voting is not a protest, it’s the epitome of an empty gesture and plays into the hands of the parties that always win. If you really want to protest then get out there and make your mark, and if possible do it for a party that has a chance of upsetting the applecart.

If you usually vote for another party, you can vote tactically this time

In Kidlington that’s the Green Party. We made the Conservatives sit up and take notice when we won in 2019 and if we do it again this year (twice!) they can’t fail to get the message that their own actions in these areas have consequences. And what’s more you get active, responsive and engaged councillors into the bargain. Just read a few of the endorsements from local residents for me below.

Please don’t waste your vote on Thursday. Use it, and use it to make a difference. Vote Green and see the difference your vote can really make!

Some of the kind comments I’ve been able to include in my election addresses during this campaign :

“I have never voted Green before but I have no hesitation in voting for Ian Middleton for our vacant County Council seat. He stands up for our Green Belt and our environment, and for ensuring that we have a future.”
David Brown, Yarnton Resident

“Ian delivered for the larder for months, sometimes taking 2-3 routes to make sure our community had food and other essentials during the first lockdown. Thereafter Ian was an ardent supporter of community interests and helped advise and establish the larder”
Emily Connally, Founder of The Cherwell Larder

“Ian has been fighting against Cherwell’s proposals to build on green belt land in Begbroke and Yarnton since they were first announced. He’s used every opportunity to oppose them and has always looked out for residents. I believe he would make an excellent county councillor and I would trust him to represent my best interests as a resident in the most effective way.”
KK, Spring Hill resident

“Ian has been a huge help to us, and really seems to care about issues impacting residents. Very accessible and always willing to lend advice and support.”
N Donoghue, Kidlington resident

“Ian has provided valuable help to the residents in our Close by getting involved and by providing ongoing support. It is reassuring to know that when needed, he is approachable and really does take an active interest in his local community”
G Bishop, Kidlington resident

“I first met Ian when he was delivering food to my area during lockdown. He didn’t tell me he was a councillor until weeks later. He’s the sort of councillor we need more of. Someone who cares about our community and isn’t out for himself. He’s always thinking of others and works to make our lives more liveable.”
Steve Norton, Brandon Close

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Kidlington’s and Yarnton’s Pothole Hall of Shame [VIDEO]

I went for a wander around Kidlington and Yarnton to check out the state of the roads. So many people have told me this is one of their major concerns in the area. Cyclists in particular are worried about poor maintenance of cycle paths and the spaces on roads that they have to use.

Last year I highlighted the County Council’s cynical actions in painting a cycle path marking over the top of an appalling road surface that was actually dangerous for cyclists to use. I said then that they were quite literally painting over the cracks in their road maintenance responsibilities.

Things haven’t improved in the meantime and I thought it was about time some of these appalling road surfaces were documented for posterity. Also I’m hoping that my video can be used to shame the council into finally dealing with damaged roads in our areas that have remained untouched for years. You can watch it for yourself here

Many of our local roads and walkways haven’t been properly repaired for years. County Councillors need to be lobbying for more funds to keep our roads in a decent state of repair and focusing on making proper cycling infrastructure more plentiful across the county.

If we al wake up to a new County Council next week I hope one of the first things they set about doing is getting a grip on this worsening situation. I know that if I’m one of those councillors I will certainly be calling for this as soon as possible.

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Our Green Spaces are Worth Fighting For!

I’ve spoken to hundreds of people during this short election campaign and probably the most important issue on most people’s minds right now is the threat to our local green belt.

I made a video about it last week which has received quite a bit of attention since it was released. You can watch it here.

Of course in Yarnton, Begbroke and Gosford (where I’m standing to become the new local County Councillor) it’s in the forefront of everyone’s minds because, if it goes ahead, we’ll be the ones living in the middle of a building site for possibly the next 10 years. We’ll also see our small rural communities destroyed and replaced with a single medium sized town, one that will probably also double up as a university campus for the Begbroke Science Park.

But even in Kidlington, (which comprises a large part of the County division) it’s going to have a huge impact. There may not be as many houses built in the area, but the additional strain on our local resources, such as health services, education and leisure facilities will be very detrimental. We’ll also see a noticeable reduction in air quality which is likely to have health impacts on the most vulnerable, as well as increased risks of flooding. The A44 will probably become a car park during busy times, giving us all the chance to sit and admire the 4 storey apartment blocks that will tower over the edge of the dual carriageway.

There’s also a good chance that Kidlington will finally lose the argument about hanging on to it’s status as a village. In 10 years time, when the population has possibly tripled, there’s likely to be a much greater push to establish the whole area as a suburb of a Greater Oxford City. Not a prospect I, or anyone else in the area, relishes but something we may have little choice over.

I for one won’t stop fighting for that until the last blade of grass has fallen under the bulldozer’s tracks.

All this might be acceptable to a greater degree if these houses were going to provide affordable accommodation for local families, many of whom are crammed into a single house with perhaps 3 generations under one roof. But these aren’t for the likes of them. These will be expensive luxury executive houses built for investment purposes, with the so-called ‘affordable’ houses reserved for people in Oxford City. The District Council saw to that when they handed control of those houses over to the City Council in a closed meeting at the beginning of the first lockdown. None of these houses will be within reach of local residents.

A lot of people have told me that all this is inevitable and that the 4400 houses are a ‘done deal’. Well that isn’t the case until we know the outcome of the legal challenge being brought to the high court next month. Until that’s over we have no idea if these proposals will stand up or collapse. There have been reports in other areas recently where challenges have been upheld, and if we get the same result Cherwell District Council will have to think again. In those circumstances we’ll need as much support on the District Council as possible which is why I’m supporting Fiona Mawson to become our second Green Party Councillor on CDC.

But even if we fail to stop these devastating plans though the courts, we can at least do our best to limit some of that devastation by having engaged and active councillors at all levels of local government. On the County Council fighting for infrastructure and other important considerations like flood protection, and of course at District and Parish level scrutinising the individual planning proposals themselves. We also have to be vigilant in opposing ‘infilling’ which may become more of an issue as the amount of development space in the area is snapped up by the bigger developers.

So I hope I and Fiona can count on the support of our local residents in the elections on Thursday. We’ve seen how our current crop of Conservative councillors have let us down on these issues, and let’s not forget that this whole idea was the brainchild of the Conservatives on Cherwell District Council in the first place, in cahoots with Oxford University, the City Council, the Oxfordshire Growth Board and the Local Enterprise Partnership. After Thursday we may have more leverage to defend our small rural communities against these faceless, unelected and anti-democratic quangos and take back control of our green heritage.

I for one won’t stop fighting for that until the last blade of grass has fallen under the bulldozer’s tracks. I hope you’ll all support me as your Green Councillor in that long battle.