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Thank You From Your New County Councillor

It’s been a busy 11 days since the election! So busy I’ve not been able to properly thank everyone who supported and voted for me on May 6th.

As the count was delayed until the 9th May and went on until late in the evening, it wasn’t until the 10th that it began to sink in that I’d actually won, beating a long standing councillor who had become something of a fixture in the area.

It was a fantastic election for the Greens across the country with us winning nearly 100 new seats. Some of the notable highlights were :

  • Greens in first place across Bristol West and Sheffield Central constituencies
  • Gained representation on 18 councils, bringing the total tally of councils with Green representation to 141.
  • Gained 99 seats – now 445 councillors across England and Wales
  • Won 24 seats on Bristol City Council – now joint largest party with Labour.

And of course in Oxford we won many new seats with an extra seat gained on the city council and 2 new seats on the county council, myself included! After we retained our original seat on the county with Dr Pete Sudbury, that gives us 3 seats along with Robin Bennett who is also the deputy leader of South Oxfordshire District Council. I’m looking forward to working with both of them.

The out-turn of all this in Oxfordshire is that the Conservatives have been pushed into being the opposition party on the county for the first time ever! While they are currently showing as having 22 seats on the council, they actually only have 21 as an extra seat was gained due to a mistake made at the count that will be corrected in the high court in the next few weeks. There’s also some exciting news in the pipeline about what that means for the next administration of the council that I can’t reveal at the moment. But look out on Monday evening for an important announcement!

Meanwhile, the Green surge continues, and thanks to you I am part of that! So a huge thank you goes out to everyone who worked on my campaign, donated money to it and of course to the people who voted for me. I will do my best to not let you down. I will be starting work on the council in the next week or so, after all the dust has settled and I am properly plugged into the systems there. The first part of that is the council AGM which will be held on Tuesday in Banbury.

In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any issues you want me to look at. My first priority is going to be looking at what we can do about the state of the roads in this area. I’ve already been contacted by several people who have raised this with me and I know from my own experience that this is a very important local issue. I hope I can hit the ground running and make some visible progress on this soon.

It’s going to be an exciting few years with huge changes afoot in Oxfordshire and you’re all part of that, so thank you all again!

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Watch – Why do I Want to be Your County Councillor? [VIDEO]

I currently sit on 4 different councils – Cherwell District Council, Yarnton Parish Council, Gosford and Water Eaton Parish Council and Kidlington Parish Council.

So why do I also want to be a County Councillor? Well there are many things I can’t get done without influence at a county level. I’ve tried several times to get the county to co-operate on issues that needs to be dealt with in my district ward, such as road repairs, tree planting and flood defences. Sometimes it can take me a whole year just to get a meeting with county officers.

As a County Councillor it will be far more difficult for the county council to ignore me. I’ll be able to get things done that have not been properly dealt with by the existing councillor in Kidlington South.

If you don’t know who that is and you live in the Kidlington South Division (check your polling card) then that’s a pretty good indication of how bad a job your current councillor is doing.

This short video gives you some more idea of why I would like to be your representative on the County Council, especially for people who live in Yarnton and Begbroke. As a Yarnton resident myself it will be nice to be able to help people in my local community.

Watch the video here https://youtu.be/YPQ00FGIlFc

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Greens Win Motion for Better Flood Response in Cherwell

At the full Cherwell District Council meeting in February I brought a motion calling for a more joined up approach to flooding response in our area and across Oxfordshire which was passed unanimously by members of the council.

The motion called for areas that are at risk of flooding to establish a ‘flood resilient community’, including the formation of local flood response groups and forums for residents to feedback information on current and potential flooding risks,

To support these groups I suggested the setting up of local flood response stores to provide locally available flood alleviation equipment. I had hoped that there would be funding for this, but there was some push back on this from the County Council due to shortage of money. I still don’t think that’s good enough and will be pursuing this more fully in the future.

The motion also said that updated surveys and maintenance programs, with maps of drainage and flood defences and associated repair responsibilities should be published regularly to help local groups and response agencies to maintain and monitor them.

Finally I called on risk management agencies across the county to set up a cooperative task force, including the provision of a centralised contact point which can trigger an immediate, proportionate response to all emergency flooding events. It is envisaged that all local councils and other agencies would play a part in this.

Flooding in Yarnton

I was very glad we managed to debate this motion, even though it only just made it before the new 11pm guillotine imposed by the Conservatives in the recent constitutional review.  If it hadn’t been discussed at this meeting, it would have been another 5 months before it would have been heard and obviously we could be facing many more flood incidents before then.

As a councillor, I’ve been trying to help local residents deal with flooding in both my Parish and District council wards.  It’s become apparent that there is no central co-ordination and no single contact point that can be called on to manage flooding at all levels.  Smaller floods are often given a low priority by the relevant agencies and even the new guidance issued by the County and District councils doesn’t provide a timely response to these incidents.

Cherwell District Council recently resumed responsibility for flood defence in the region and as we also work closely with the county council we are in a unique position to take some leadership on this issue and improve responses to these distressing and costly incidents.  This is even more important in areas like Yarnton and Begbroke which have been flooded recently and where the council has recently identified areas for development as part of the local plan review. 

Covering areas in tarmac and concrete is only going to increase the likelihood of flooding and we need to ensure that suitable and long lasting flood alleviation measures are included along with responsibility for maintenance.