In 2019 I became the first ever Green District Councillor in Cherwell. Apart from that being a little bit of personal history for me, it was also the start of a change that would unfold across the county over the next 3 years with Greens playing their part in the removal of Conservative control in every major local authority in Oxfordshire.
In 2019, Green colleagues in South Oxfordshire, along with the Lib Dems virtually swept the board, taking control of the District Council from a huge Conservative majority with 5 Greens being elected. Another Green was elected on the Vale of the White Horse Council. Then in 2021 Greens, Lib Dems and Labour took control of the County Council in a three way alliance with the Lib Dems and Greens forming a separate group which I now have the honour of being deputy leader of. Finally in 2022 we took joint control of West Oxfordshire District Council with the Lib Dems and Labour as well as gaining a further seat on CDC.
That left CDC as the only remaining Conservative controlled council albeit with a drastically reduced majority of only 2. The group that I and 2 Lib Dems formed in 2019 grew to 12 members by the end of the last municipal year meaning that from 2022 we became the official opposition with me as deputy leader of that group.
That’s a huge turnaround in only a few short years which feels even shorter given that for one of those years the elections were cancelled.
Now with Cherwell as the last remaining bastion of Conservatism in the county, the prize is for the taking. As long as all the currently sitting opposition councillors hang on to their seats (which includes me) in the forthcoming elections, we have a good chance of taking control of CDC. We really need 4 extra seats to be flipped from the Conservatives and the way the country feels about them at the moment that is a very real possibility.
Greens hope to take one more seat in Bicester where we’ve come a close second 2 years in a row, with the Lib Dems hopefully gaining 2 more. In Banbury there’s a chance that Labour will also gain an extra seat which would then give a 4 way Green/Lib Dem/Labour/Independent alliance a majority. Even if we only gain 2-3 seats the council will fall into no overall control which gives us much more leverage to ensure that areas like Kidlington get a better slice of the district pie.
For far too long Kidlington has been the poor relation in Cherwell with the majority of funding and investment going to Banbury – where the council has so far sunk £130M into a failing shopping centre – and Bicester – where they plan to spend £4.25M on upgrading a car park in an events space that no one really seems to want.
This year we have an opportunity to see real change and real progress in areas like Kidlington as well as the rest of the district. I hope voters will take that opportunity and we can finally have a clean sweep across the county leaving progressive, forward thinking authorities looking out for the best interests of current residents and those yet to come.
This year, more than ever in Cherwell, every vote will count. I won in 2019 with only 72 votes to spare, although last year Fiona Mawson won with a far more convincing majority of over 250. I hope I can emulate here but we can’t afford to be complacent. Everyone needs to use their vote to support the candidate most likely to win against the Toru candidate. In Kidlington East that’s me and I hope I can count on local support.
Let’s not lose this chance to break the Tory stranglehold and make a better future for everyone. Make sure your vote really counts on May 4th!